The UNICEF-OFC partnership has been designed in the frame of the Confederation’s Just Play Programme, which uses football as a tool for community development, and aims to strengthen the international standards of the programme to protect children in sports and advance their rights in the area.
Initially the initiative will be launched in Samoa, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands and expanded in 2015 to Kiribati, Tuvalu and Tonga.
“Every child has the right to play and recreation, as enshrined in Article 31 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), as well as the right to sport, which is specifically contained in other international treaties. Sports are a fun and effective way to reach the most disadvantaged children, and we are very excited about it,” said UNICEF Pacific Representative, Dr. Karen Allen.
“The Just Play Programme is a perfect fit with UNICEF’s Sports for Development Programme which uses sports, recreation and play to fulfill the right to play and as an avenue for participation, learning, health and protection.” she added.
The Just Play Programme promotes physical activity for children aged between 6 and 12 years-old through football-related activities, while also addressing endemic issues, including non-communicable diseases, poor nutrition, gender equality, stigma and discrimination towards children with disabilities.
“This collaboration will allow us to draw on UNICEF’s extensive expertise in social development, which will complement the work we are currently doing”, explained OFC Head of Social Responsibility and International Relations, Franck Castillo.
The OFC Head of Social Responsibility also considers the partnership an opportunity to better identify the extent of Just Play’s influence around Oceania.
“UNICEF will help us to improve our evaluation tools to become more efficient, easy to use and capable of collecting enough data to develop concrete evidence,” he said.