The Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) and the Western India Football Association (WIFA) have extended the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which will ensure a further nine months of OFC Just Play activities in the Maharashtra region.
The OFC Just Play Programme was first introduced to India in July 2016 with a pilot project, which in 2017 was expanded into the districts of Mumbai and Kolhapur.
In 2019 the Just Play Emergency Programme was rolled out at Kolhapur in November following heavy flooding in the district. Building on the knowledge of Just Play’s emergency experience in the Pacific, the Social Responsibility Programme Manager from the Fiji Football Association travelled to India to provide support in the training and evaluation of the emergency programme in Kolhapur. This proved integral in raising awareness of positive WASH behaviours and practices and showed the significant potential for further expansion of the programme in the district.
OFC General Secretary Franck Castillo apprised about extending the Memorandum of Understanding with WIFA. He said it is a continued commitment to the OFC’s vision of developing regions in India through the medium of football.
“We have seen how the OFC Just Play Programme can support football development in countries like Samoa and Tonga, and we are delighted we can support similar development success in India. I extend my wishes to the OFC Just Play team in India as they meet the challenges of the changing world head on over the next nine months.” said Mr. Castillo.
“We have had a tremendous success and seen positive changes through the Just Play programme, especially during the floods in Kolhapur. And these changes have continued throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as we continue to engage with children online during this difficult time. We are looking forward to working with OFC to further grow and develop the programme in India.” quoted Mr Souter Vaz, Hon General Secretary of WIFA.
As well as continuing to deliver the programme in India, within the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic, the India branch of Just Play will be working on several other key projects during this period.
The team has been working hard to keep children engaged during the lockdown. Among the creative tools proving successful is the use of social media and videos encouraging participation and engagement.
The development of a customized mobile application and web portal for collecting monitoring and evaluation data is one of the priority tasks of the next 12 months alongside pursuing the scope for expansion into other parts of India.
The expansion of the OFC Just Play Programme in India has been made possible through the support of the UEFA Foundation for Children.
OFC and WIFA have worked in partnership to support the design and development of the Just Play programme for the sub-continent. The programme has been designed and adapted to suit the Indian context, applying lessons learnt from the Pacific programme.