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UNICEF and the OFC collaborate on award-winning Just Play program

UNICEF and the OFC collaborate on award-winning Just Play program
March 16, 2014

The Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Pacific office have signed a cooperation agreement that will see them collaborate on the award-winning Just Play program.

UNICEF Pacific Representative Dr. Karen Allen said "the Just Play program is a perfect fit with UNICEF's Sports for Development Program which uses sports, recreation and play to fulfil the right to play and as an avenue for participation, learning, health and protection.

"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."

OFC Head of Social Responsibility and International Relations Franck Castillo says the partnership is a step in the right direction for the Just Play Program thanks to the expertise UNICEF offers.

Castillo adds "this collaboration will allow us to draw on UNICEF's extensive expertise in social development, which will complement the work we are currently doing with our partners the Australian Government through the Australian Sports Commission, Football Federation Australia and UEFA."

The Just Play program promotes physical activity for children aged six to 12 years old through football-related activities, while also addressing endemic issues such as non-communicable diseases, poor nutrition, gender equality, stigma and discrimination towards children with disabilities.

Just Play has been introduced in all 11 of the OFC's Member Associations, though the UNICEF-OFC partnership will take place in Samoa, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands.

While the program has been lauded for its contribution to social development, Castillo is keen to work closely with UNICEF to more clearly identify the influence Just Play is having around Oceania.

He adds "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."

In announcing the UNICEF-OFC partnership, Dr Allen concluded "the program is especially exciting because of the participation and partnership with children. Their energy and enthusiasm will be the reason this program succeeds."

The Just Play program is designed and monitored by the OFC Social Responsibility department, in partnership with the Australian Government through the Australian Sports Commission, Football Federation Australia, UEFA and UNICEF.

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.




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