OFC is committed to growing football at community and school level throughout the Pacific. To this end, OFC has developed a unique grassroots programme called ‘Just Play’which promotes physical activity for primary-aged children while encouraging community involvement and healthy living.
‘Just Play’ is designed for children aged 6-12 and is based around structured activity programmes as well as the distribution of equipment packs containing balls, cones, bibs, activity manuals and other resources that enable children to play football at anytime and in any situation.
Volunteers and teachers, who are trained by OFC in cooperation with its member associations, provide tuition for students on how to develop games skills and lead healthier lives.
‘Just Play’ certificates and equipments bags are handed out at the at the end of each course.
The initiative is led by OFC Head of Social Responsibility Franck Castillo, Technical Coordinator Colin Tuaa and Just Play consultant Vania Kenning.
The success of the ‘Just Play’ programme is based on key partnerships.
OFC is working closely with the Government of Australia – through its agencies the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) – and Football Federation Australia (FFA) to roll out the programme across the Pacific over a three-year period between 2009 and 2011. The Australian Government has shown its support to the project by contributing AU$4million.
In New Zealand, OFC has partnered with John Walker’s Find Your Field of Dreams Foundation to deliver ‘Just Play’ to more than 100 schools in South Auckland. OFC hopes to establish similar partnerships so that the programme can be replicated across New Zealand.
OFC also works closely with the member association, department of education and local community leaders wherever possible.
An important aspect of the ‘Just Play’ program is the pro-active fostering of the development in local clubs and associations which remain the primary source of the game’s grass-roots and elite development strength throughout Oceania.
Therefore, clubs and associations will be integrated into an overarching retention strategy that provides them with direct access to ‘Just Play’ children via the school program, and the opportunity to promote their club to a targeted and captive audience.
This will be facilitated by inviting local clubs to meet with school teachers, children and parents who are attending the program during the final two weeks of each ‘Just Play’ activity.
The local club can provide to the school teacher, children and their parents information about other fun football activities which are available for them after their ‘Just Play’ experience.
In some instances club members may also be part of the program delivery team which will provide even greater opportunity to promote their club benefits to would be potential club members.