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Just Play’s health role highlighted

The three (3) guest speakers brought attention to the theme “Just Play for Health” in their speeches which drove home messages about some of the health challenges young children will be faced with as they grow up. The 500 children who witnessed the opening ceremony were the beneficiaries of ‘words of wisdom’ shared by the speakers.
The Solomon Islands Football Federation (SIFF), Martin Alufurai, praised Just Play itself as a community tool for social education and its potential to contribute positively to the lives of children as they grow up.
“The theme for today ‘Just Play for Health’ is an important theme and underlines Just Play’s role as tool for education and empowerment. There are many health issues which we are faced with in our country and Just Play performs an important role by giving us the opportunity to reach to our young children through football,” Alufurai said.
Alufurai then narrowed the message down to the individual level with a call for young children to be conscious about their wellbeing.
“Health starts at the individual level. It is about cleanliness, personal hygiene and looking after yourself,” Alufurai said.
Also speaking at the opening ceremony was the Director of Primary Education in the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development, Benedict Esibaea whose message was against the tri-pronged challenge of alcohol, tobacco and betel nut.
“Tobacco and alcohol are not going to help you in your endeavour to be sports men and women and chewing of betel nut is also a habit that you must grow up and away from. As a sportsman or woman you should not smoke, consume alcohol or chew betel nut and I ask you through this program today to take the message with you,” Esibaea said.
Esibaea also spoke about the threat of AIDS in the community and he shared with the children that being knowledgeable about the issue gives them the power to make the right decisions.
“I share with you today the challenge of AIDs and the need for young people need to be educated about this issue that our community is fighting against. Knowledge is power and in this fight against AIDs the most important tool you will have is information about how to protect yourself from this disease,” Esibaea said.
The final speaker of the day was the Third Secretary to the Australian High Commissioner, William Ewing, and his speech emphasised the objectives of the Australian government for Just Play in Solomon Islands.
“The Australian government is a major funder of Just Play in the pacific. What Australia wants is for Solomon Islands to grow up in a strong and stable country so that young people like you can take full benefit of and enjoy life. Sports is a big part of the initiative Australia is taking in Solomon Islands and Just Play is the program that we are working through,” Ewing said.
Ewing also shared a message of his own to the children at the end of his speech that highlighted the importance of sports.
“As a young kid growing up I always hear on the radio the message ‘Water is Life’. I believe that sports shares a similar importance in health and everyone should take part in and enjoy sports,” Ewing said.
Honiara’s Just Play day was held on Thursday 1st December. The day also included football competitions for the Under-12 and Under-10 category. The Under-12 category was won by Koa Hill Community and the Under-10 category trophy went to Naha Seventh Day Adventist Primary School.
Just Play was initiated by the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) in 2010 as a rural sports, education and health program. Its implementation in Solomon Islands is funded by the Australian government. Just Play is also being implemented in other OFC countries including Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Samoa.
Since its introduction in Solomon Islands in 2010 Just Play has taken off as a major grassroots football program for young children. It is currently active in Honiara, Guadalcanal, Malaita and Western Province but there are plans for extension to other provinces in Solomon Islands in the coming year.

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