Tonga piloted the Oceania Football Confederation’s (OFC) exciting grassroots football programme “Just Play” which was launched in October 2009.
The initiative has been developed by Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) in close collaboration with its 11 Member Associations including Tonga Football Association (TFA) with strong support from the Australian Government through its agencies, the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and the Australian Sports Commission (ASC). 'Just Play' programme will be rolled out across the region over the next three years.
OFC has worked closely with Tonga Football Association (TFA) and the Tongan Government to introduce the programme which promotes physical activity (especially, but not only, football) for children aged 6-13 and encourages community involvement.
The agreement with the Government of Australia amounts to AU$4 million over a three-year period and covers the implementation of ‘Just Play’ throughout the region. Also supporting the programme are UEFA, Cue Sports and Manukau-based charity Find Your Field of Dreams.
In Tonga, the government put their full backing behind the project in October 2009 when they signed a groundbreaking Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in Nuku’alofa.
Present at the signing was Vice President of TFA the Honourable Moimoi Vaea, acting Director of Education Mrs Peaua Heimuli, acting Director of Sport Mr Viliami Liava’a and OFC representative Franck Castillo. The MOU defines the roles of each stakeholder in facilitating the programme and will be delivered to 82 primary schools as well as communities over the next three years.
The programme is headed by Lafaele Moala, grassroots project manager, and is answerable to a steering committee with representatives from responsible government ministries, AusAid and TFA.
‘Just Play’ pilot in Tonga involved 10 government primary schools including Kolomotu’a, Longolongo, Ngeleia and Nuku’alofa in the Central District, ‘Atele, Veitongo, Vaini in the Eastern District and Tokomololo, Pea and Halalo in the Western District.
Activities in Tonga included training workshops for over 50 teachers and volunteers who will run the project in 10 government primary schools.
The sessions, which featured dozens of eager students, were facilitated by OFC 'Just Play' project manager Franck Castillo and OFC 'Just Play' technical coordinator Yvon Avry. Local media turned out in force to cover the action.
The programme is expected to roll out across Oceania over the next year including American Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, New Caledonia, New Zealand (Manukau), Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
For more information about the 'Just Play' programme, click here