On 9 December the Queen’s Baton arrived to the island of fire, Ambae, Vanuatu where over 600 children from the Just Play Emergency Programme were awaiting its arrival at the base of the volcano, Manaro.

The Just Play Emergency Programme, a sport-based emergency response, was launched on the island by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), through its partnership with the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC).

Leveraging the on-going Just Play programming platform, the emergency programme targeted over 2,000 children who have been affected by the temporary evacuation of Ambae, through Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) centres, primary schools and communities.

“Ensuring children and families are given the right kind of support and messages to support psychosocial recovery after a major event in their lives is important,” stated UNICEF Vanuatu Field Office Chief, Andrew Parker. “Parents can start focussing on rebuilding their lives once they can see their children happy and playing – and we can do this through sports”, he added.

Recognising the important role sport can play in supporting the psychosocial recovery of children after an emergency, the Just Play Emergency programme, supported the dissemination of critical messages through play-based sessions and festivals.

“Football has an important role to play both on and off the field. We view the Just Play Emergency Programme as a key component in making positive contributions to the lives of children across the Pacific,” OFC President David Chung said.  “We know that in times of disaster, children and families rely on routine, which sport can provide to help them recover and regain the confidence to move forward.”

Kicking off celebrations for the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Cost, the Queen’s Baton is touring the Commonwealth.  On its epic journey to the Gold Cost, the baton will cover over 200,000 km in less than 400 days – making its debut in Vanuatu on the East and West of Ambae at the Just Play Emergency Programme festivals.  The baton leverages the power of sport, bringing people together as it is passed hand, to hand, reinforcing inspiring messages of hope, recovery and perseverance for the children of Ambae.

The Just Play Emergency Programme was delivered in partnership with the Vanuatu Football Federation, the Fiji Football Association, the Union of European Football Association (UEFA) and the UEFA Foundation for Children, Vanuatu Association of Sport and National Olympic Committee (VASANOC) and the Government of Vanuatu.

About Just Play
The OFC Just Play Programme is a sport for development programme which helps children to grow, learn and explore through sport. Just Play gives a child a ball, a coach and a safe place to play. The programme shows children how to have fun with other children, be physically active and become confident in their abilities. Through the integration of social messages, Just Play helps children to develop healthy lifestyle habits, encourages gender equality and leaders in the community, promotes social inclusion and insists on sport for all. The programme Developed and managed by the Oceania Football Confederation, with support from the Australian Government, the Football Federation of Australia, the New Zealand Government, UNICEF and the Union of European Football Association (through the UEFA foundation for Children), the program has reached more than 270,000 children across 11-Pacific island countries. For more information on the programme please visit: www.justplayofc.org

About OFC
OFC is charged with the task of servicing and administering football in the Oceania region while also using the game as a tool for social development. The Confederation is led by OFC President David Chung who was elected to office in 2011.

The OFC Just Play Programme is designed and monitored by the OFC Social Responsibility department, in partnership with Australian and the New Zealand Governments, the Football Federation Australia, the UEFA Foundation for Children and UNICEF.  For more information about OFC or its 11 Member Associations visit:www.oceaniafootball.com

About UEFA Foundation for Children
Established in 2015, the UEFA Foundation for Children is a charitable organisation governed by Swiss law. It defends the rights of underprivileged children by using the power of football to improve their lives and to help them develop their potential and find their place in the community. The foundation currently invests in 107 projects in 81 countries worldwide. More than 700,000 children have already benefited from the foundation’s work since its creation.
To find out more about the projects supported by the UEFA Foundation for Children visit our official website:www.uefafoundation.org


UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do.  Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicefpacific.org Follow UNICEF on Twitter and Facebook