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Just Play football launched

Friday 18 March 2011 | Published in Regional

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Cook Islands Football Association launched the Just Play grassroots programme on Wednesday afternoon at Takitumu Primary School.

Just Play is a programme initiated by the Oceania Football Confederation.

It is a social development grassroots football programme based on participation and fun.

It offers everyone the chance to play without discrimination.

The programme is not only for schools but also for the wider community and youth groups.

It promotes an active lifestyle among our young people who come from disadvantaged areas or have limited access to sports clubs.

The opening was attended by the minister of youth and sports Mark Brown, secretary of education Sharyn Paio, Oceania footballs president David Chung and general secretary Tai Nicholas, school principals, community group leaders and recently trained facilitators.

Project manager Michelle Paiti welcomed the guests before Cook Islands Football president Lee Harmon spoke of the importance of this programme and acknowledged those who have assisted and given their support to get the programme under way here in the Cook Islands.

Oceania Football president and FIFA vice president David Chung spoke of the alarming social issues which face us all in the Pacific and how sports can help educate our young children, particularly the Just Play programme as it teaches rules, boundaries, respect and fair play.

Just Play ensures children of all abilities can play fun football activities together.

Sports and youth minister Mark Brown asked the children of Takitumu school during his speech whether they thought it was important to go to school and get a good education but he also explained how important it was to be active and healthy too so they don’t miss school.

He says the programme is a great initiative that the government is happy to support.

Following the speeches a memorandum of understanding was signed between partners of this programme Cook Islands Football, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Oceania Football Confederation.

The children of Takitumu Primary School and the newly trained facilitators then treated the guests to some Just Play action before equipment was presented to representatives from the schools and community groups involved in the pilot phase.

Cook Islands Football would like to acknowledge the Australian Government, UEFA and Oceania Football for their funding of the Just Play grassroots programme, minister Mark Brown and the government for the tax exemption on the imported equipment which was distributed to the school principals, Sharyn Paio and school principals for their cooperation and support.

“The launch was a great success, both the children and the facilitators are eager to get the pilot phase started,” said Paiti.

“The Just Play initiative has generated a lot of support which will help to sustain it in the Cook Islands and we look forward to a successful programme.”