UEFA Foundation for Children have selected OFC to receive funding as part of their 2023 call for projects and will support This Is How We Football next year to create opportunities in and through football for girls across the Pacific.

Established in 2014, the UEFA Foundation for Children works with partners to develop projects and programmes designed to support humanitarian efforts in promoting children’s rights in Europe and beyond. OFC has been a longstanding partner with UEFA Foundation for Children, receiving the UEFA Foundation for Children Award in 2016, recognising the impact of the Just Play programmes on the lives of children across the Pacific region.

With UEFA’s support, the Just Play programme has continued to grow and evolve, having now reached over 400,000 children while also training a long list of remarkable current and former volunteers, instructors and administrators.

In 2022 OFC developed and launched This Is How We Football, in response to research conducted and included in the OFC Gender Equality Playbook and as part of our coordinated FIFA Women’s World Cup™ 2023 Legacy.

As OFC Head of Social Responsibility, Mike Armstrong spoke highly of the programme.

“The Pacific region faces some of the highest rates of violence against women and girls. Discrimination pervades onto the football pitch where women and girls face significant barriers to participation, but we also know the power of football to bring people together, to create opportunities and to teach important behaviours that can lead to more equitable societies.”

In 2022 UEFA Foundation Chief Executive, Urs Cluser visited Fiji to see first-hand the impact that Just Play has had over the years and to meet some of the amazing women and girls engaged in the early stages of This Is How We Football delivery.

Fiji Football Association were able to showcase the remarkable work being done through their Social Responsibility and Women’s Football departments.

Along with the activities on the pitch, OFC have launched our first ever This Is How We Football social media account which continues to inspire women and girls across the region.

Farah Mohammed, OFC Head of Legal and Compliance, has taken up social football this year. Speaking about the This Is How We Football account Farah said, “I love the authenticity of the programme for our region, showing the pure grassroots reality for our people. Being from the islands it is so great to see girls getting involved.”

In 2024, This is How We Football is planned to be delivered in nine of OFC’s Member and Associate Member Associations, with a focus on breaking down the barriers for adolescent girls and inspiring a lifelong engagement with football.

As Michael Armstrong explains, the UEFA Foundation for Children is a vital part of this.

“We are expecting to continue to grow our game and reach even more communities across the Pacific next year. We couldn’t do this without the ongoing support of our partners, especially the network support and expertise from the likes of the UEFA Foundation for Children.

“With their support we can continue to advance and elevate our work for an Equal Oceania and ensure a lasting legacy from the FIFA Women’s World Cup™.”