In 2009 the Just Play program, introduced in to the Kingdom of Tonga to children of 6- 12 years of age, is a sport for development program that helps children to grow,
learn and explore through football. Building on the program’s success, at the beginning of this year, Just Play introduced a new program, targeting children aged 13-16 years of age.
Using the Sport 2 Life concept as the program’s underpinning foundation, this unique sport based coaching curriculum developed by UNICEF in Namibia,
integrates the delivery of learning outcomes from within the sporting context. Sport 2 Life helps coaches from any sports code to facilitate positive outcomes
by helping players to develop the skills to make consistent, long term, healthy lifestyles choices on and off the pitch.
In the past three days, 16 volunteers from several communities in Tongatapu gathered at Loto-Tonga Soccer Centre to participate in the Sport 2 Life workshop and
Just Play 13-16 year teacher and community volunteer training course. Ms. Melissa Palombi, Sport for Development Consultant from UNICEF Pacific, who is based in Suva, Fiji
was also present to assist with the workshop.
Palombi says, ‘’The Just Play 13-16 years programme helps children to learn how to apply the life skills they learn on the football pitch to aspects of their daily lives.
It gives them an opportunity to gain knowledge and to practice using these skills in a safe environment.”
‘’The S2L concept, helps coaches, by providing them with a series of key coaching words that help them to reinforce life skills learned as part of each Just Play session.
These six action words, Come to Play, Use Your Voice, Build Your Team, Stay in the Game and Priority-Goal-Plan, are used by coaches throughout their sessions and
guide players to think critically, review how they are playing and think about how they can work better as a team, maximize their strengths and perform better.
Palombi adds, “That Tonga is very unique to the other Just Play countries, in the sense that the programme is delivered primarily in communities.
It was exciting to see so many community volunteers attending the training. The group attending the recent course were very enthusiastic and eager to put into practice what they learnt.”
Palombi was excited to be here in Tonga for the workshop and her first visit to the kingdom and expressed her gratitude to Tonga Football for their warm hospitality.
“The Just Play team in Tonga is doing a great job and I am looking forward to liaising with them over the coming months to see how the workshop participants progress.
I want to thank everyone for their hospitality during my first visit – it has been fantastic.”
Palu Úhatahi, Just Play Project Manager says, ‘’I am so happy with the outcomes of this 3 day workshop as the participants already demonstrated a willingness
to work voluntary for their communities or their clubs. We have a new community who participated in this recent workshop and we will assist them to kick off their program within the next two weeks.
Úhatahi extended her gratitude to UNICEF Pacific for their ongoing support. Tonga Football is forever grateful to Australian Government, New Zealand’s Government,
UNICEF Pacific, the UEFA Foundation for Children and the OFC for their continuous support of the Just Play programme in Tonga and around the Pacific.