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Australian Government backs sports development programs in Asia

Australian Government backs sports development programs in Asia
April 6, 2016

In a move to grow Australia’s ‘soft power’, the Australian Government will be using a new sport for development program to conduct diplomacy through sport in Asia.

The newly-launched Asian Sports Partnerships (ASP) will provide $4 million over the next two years for Australian national sporting organisations to deliver innovative sports programs which produce development outcomes in Asia.

The first $2 million will go to 10 Australian sporting organisations - including football, badminton, cricket, hockey, table tennis and tennis - who will use sport to promote community health, social inclusion, and youth participation in eight Asian countries.

The programs will aim to promote community health, social inclusion, youth participation, gender equality, disability inclusion and peace building in countries such as Nepal, Indonesia, Laos, India and Timor-Leste.

Introducing the program, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop stated “whether they're parents learning about nutrition through playing basketball in Timor Leste, or school children improving with their help by playing football in India or communities coming together by playing netball in Sri Lanka, Australia will be using its expertise in sport to make a difference.

"This is our region, our neighbourhood, our part of the world where we can make the biggest difference." Among the programs, Netball Australia plans to deliver programs to increase sport participation levels among girls and women by contributing to health and leadership outcomes in India, Nepal, Timor-Leste and Sri Lanka.

In a statement, Netball Australia Chief Executive Kate Palmer explained “this program will allow Netball Australia and our partners to engage thousands of women in positive, supportive environments that provide the opportunity and encourage them to get active, build networks and practice their leadership skills.

“The community development team at Netball Australia has a wealth of experience in establishing high-quality, high-impact sport for development programs and we’re excited to share this expertise with our closest neighbours.”

Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera was at Kiribilli House today (Wednesday 6th April) for the awarding of a $200,000 grant to Netball Australia to go towards the programs.

As in Australia, netball is the most popular sport played by women and girls in Sri Lanka since it was introduced in 1921.

The ASP will also back Football Federation Australia (FFA) in rolling out its ‘Just Play’ program in 14 districts in the Indian state of Kerala later this year.

The objective of the program is to give children aged six to 12 years a positive first experience with football while also teaching lessons about important social issues, such as gender equality and sanitation.

‘Just Play’ is a joint venture between the Australian Government, the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC), UNICEF and UEFA Foundation. FFA has been an official partner since the program was inaugurated in 2009.

Commenting on the pilot ‘Just Play’ program, Minister Bishop added “the Australian Government is delighted with the success of the program in 11 Pacific nations.

“The program has helped over 200,000 children in Oceania learn football skills along with valuable health and well-being lessons. I look forward to making the same positive impact in Kerala.”

FFA Chief Executive David Gallop said the ‘Just Play’ program demonstrated the crucial role football can play in delivering Australian international aid across Asia and Oceania.

Gallop explained “combining football with an educational agenda is a compelling way to engage with vulnerable children

“It’s a way that football is Australia’s bridge to Asia and beyond.

“The ‘Just Play’ program has a proven record over the past seven years and I’m sure that FFA’s expertise in coaching and development, supported by the Australia Government’s funding, will produce very worthwhile outcomes in India.”

It is hoped through some of Australia's elite athletes, many of whom double as role models, the ASP will act as a key part of Australia's links with people from nations across the Asian and Indo-Pacific region.

An effective sport for development program is an integral component of the Australian Sports Diplomacy Strategy 2015-18 launched in June 2015.

The launch of the program coincided withthe annual International Day of Sport for Peace and Development.

Click here for further information on the successful grants.

Images: Foreign Minister Julie Bishop joins with young netballers at the ASP launch (top - courtesy of Netball Australia) and Minister Bishop with Westfield Matilda Chloe Logarzo and FFA Chief Executive David Gallop (below - courtesy of the FFA).

12th January 2016 - GYMNASTICS AUSTRALIA AND VICTORIA UNIVERSITY SEEK TO EMPOWER SOUTH EAST ASIAN WOMEN

26th June 2015 - SPORT AT THE HEART OF AUSTRALIAN ‘SOFT DIPLOMACY’

3rd July 2014 - AUSTRALIAN SPORTS MEDICINE SETS ITS SIGHTS ON ASIA

16th March 2014 - UNICEF AND THE OFC COLLABORATE ON AWARD-WINNING JUST PLAY PROGRAM

21st June 2013 - MEGA SPORTS EVENTS: A DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD

29th October 2012 - ARTS, CULTURE AND SPORT TO BE UNIFIERS WITH ASIA


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