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Just Play resuming under new vision

After one year of successful launches and implementation workshops in 82 schools throughout Solomon Islands and touching the lives of more than 7000 children the community based sports program is turning its focus to strengthening its foundations in its partner schools and communities for a longer term existence.
Solomon Islands Football Federation (SIFF) special projects manager, Phillip Ohoto’ona, revealed in a statement that his office will be maintaining the number of schools they worked with in 2010 but they are looking at expanding the training to the communities.
“The next phase of the program will be about increasing the capacity of schools and communities to implement and manage Just Play as a long term sports program,” Ohoto’ona says. “We feel that the full potential for Just Play needs to be reached in each school or community and we want to achieve that before taking moving out to new areas.”
“Our experience from last year requires us to shift our focus to delivering in terms of quality so that all participating schools and communities can fully benefit. This means that we want to train more Just Play instructors from the partner schools and the communities and build a closer relationship with them.”
The new approach is based on the outcomes of the Just Play managers’ seminar held in Auckland in June which talked about addressing the issue of instructor to student ratio and the movement of teachers amongst other things. From that meeting came the idea to for Just Play managers to work closely with their existing partner schools for the second stage to develop an effective delivery method for their students and ensuring that the training delivered is of a high standard.
According to Ohoto’ona for SIFF the objective for the second year is to re-engage the 82 partner schools and increase the number of participating communities to 4. The program will also train an additional 248 instructors including 84 community volunteers. This will require 10 training workshops to be held for the 4 the four regions in the program in the period July 2011 to June 2012.
Stage 2 will kick off in Honiara on August 22 with the training of 60 teachers and community volunteers from 17 schools and 2 communities in the national capital. The training exercise will be conducted over 1 week. After its completion further training workshops will be organised for the remaining existing partner schools and communities in the country.
The new interest in community volunteers is centred around the strong link between schools and communities in Solomon Islands. Having a community based volunteer, it is perceived will, support a longer term existence of the Just Play in the partner regions.
“Community ownership is what we are driving for in the second stage. We believe that their involvement will help Just Play reach its full potential as a community program,” Ohoto’ona says.
SIFF itself will spend the next year working with local education authorities and the government to re-strengthen physical education in primary schools and promote Just Play as one of the major components. Stronger links are also being developed between the Just Play management and SIFF technical department as goals interlink especially concerning women’s and grassroots football.
Commenting on the outlook for the coming year, Ohoto’ona says that it will be another busy 12 months for his office but they are looking forward to working with the schools and communities.
“Just Play is an exciting program because it is well accepted by the communities and schools. My office is committed to repeat the success of last year in the coming one, it will be a lot of work but we have a team in place that is prepared and committed,” Ohoto’ona says.
Just Play is also active in Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and Tonga amongst other pacific island countries. It is one of OFC’s major social development programs and it is aimed at using football development as a tool for targeting issues affecting island communities. It is funded by the Australian government through the Australian Agency for International Aid (AusAID).

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