The new phase of the Australian Government’s sport for development program, Team Up, is launching in the Pacific with a week of activities leading into International Women’s Day (Monday 8 March), reflecting the program’s strong focus on gender equity.

Working to transform lives through sport, the initial phase of Team Up will support 30 sport for development partnerships in six Pacific countries: Fiji, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu.

Programmes are delivered in partnership by sporting and non-sporting organisations, with technical support from Team Up management in Australia and the program’s regional office in Suva, Fiji, with the OFC Just Play Programme among those being supported. Team Up is supported by the Australian Government and builds on more than two decades of sport for development programmes, activities and partnerships in the Asia-Pacific region.

Team Up programmes run activities in community, school and sporting settings and use sport to bring people together, champion inclusion and create opportunities. Varying by country, they range from initiatives to address gender-based violence, modified activities for people with and without disabilities to participate together, and programmes which create women leaders on and off the field.

In total, 13 sports, including football, provide the basis for the 30 programmes.

Off the field, Team Up will support strategic regional partnerships to strengthen the sport sector in areas such as communications, leadership and safeguarding.

The first of these is Women in News and Sport (WINS), a training and mentoring program delivered by ABC International Development that provides female journalists in Asia-Pacific with the tools to carve out a career in the male-dominated world of sports media.

All programmes under Team Up contribute to one or more of the programme’s five focus areas:

  • gender (ensuring women and girls enjoy all the benefits of sport)
  • disability (championing a collaborative approach to disability-inclusive sport)
  • leadership (promoting diverse and proactive sport leadership)
  • governance (supporting and strengthening good governance in sport)
  • knowledge (sharing knowledge of best practice in sport for development)

Team Up Partnerships Manager and former Papua New Guinea football captain, Andrew Lepani, said: “It is truly exciting to be launching Team Up and to be able to continue working with many established sport for development partners in the Pacific, along with several new ones.

“While Team Up builds on the solid foundations set by its long-running predecessor program, Pacific Sports Partnerships (PSP), it has a new and sharpened focus on allowing all people, regardless of their gender, ability or background, to reach their full potential through sport.

“The partners have been working closely with us over the past few months to design and refine their programmes and we are all looking forward to teaming up to transform lives through sport.”

Team Up launch activities will take place in each Pacific country this week (1-5 March 2021) with partners showcasing different programs at joint festival-style events, running activities based on the International Women’s Day 2021 theme of #ChooseToChallenge, holding media launches and celebrating women in sport.

Follow all the news from Team Up on the programme’s new website and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.