Tonga Football Association (TFA) is working closely with the Tonga Ministry of Education to raise awareness of COVID-19 protocols across Tongatapu, Vava’u, Ha’apai and ‘Eua, via the Just Play WASH curriculum.

The Just Play Programme has been a feature after school, during lunch or during Movement and Fitness sessions with the approval of the Ministry of Education and school principals. However, following the final primary school exams, TFA started running the Primary Schools Competition and WASH Festivals during school-time for the first time since the programme was launched 11 years ago.

“After distributing the Solidarity Fund-Hygiene packages to all primary and secondary schools in Tonga, 160 schools total, the Minister of Education showed interest in football and TFA hosting a primary school competition as part of the post-exam activities,” TFA Head of Social Responsibility, Palu Uhatahi-Tuamoheloa said.

“We met the Minister and his officials and discussed the competition, they raised the issue of it being taboo to have boys and girls playing together. However, because of the success of the Just Play Programme, which really supports the idea that boys and girls can play together and promotes the right of every child to play, they agreed to allow the competitions to be mixed.

“So we will be running the TFA Government Primary Schools Competition for Years 5 and 6, and we will also be running the Just Play Programme WASH components for Years 1 to 4 over the next eight weeks.”

Master Instructor Lafaele Moale leads a capacity building workshop for volunteers.

With four different locations involved, a lot of early effort went into training volunteers on the WASH curriculum.

Uhatahi-Tuamoheloa said it has proven quite timely that WASH was the next component in the curriculum given the current COVID-19 pandemic.

“We ran capacity building training for each of the islands volunteers, training 60 volunteers across the four islands.

Enjoying the TFA Government Primary Schools Competition.

“We’ve focused on the new WASH curriculum because it is best suited to run at this time to support the Ministry of Health and Government messages of helping prevent COVID-19 by washing your hands.

“Although it’s a short period of time – only two months – we believe that because of our united approach these key messages will reach out to all children in Tonga.”

The activities got underway earlier this month and the conclusion will coincide with the final week of school, at the end of November.