OFC and UNICEF join forces in support of the Pacific Cyclone Appeal

The successful partnership between the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) continues with the two organisations teaming up to appeal for funds in support of children affected by two recent and devastating cyclones in the Pacific. From 11-14 March 2015, Tropical Cyclone Pam, with winds moving from Category 1 up to Category 5, hit the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. At the same time, the Cyclone caused high waves to crash over atoll islands in Kiribati and the Solomon Islands. The super cyclone is one of the worst natural disasters in South Pacific history.

Just a few weeks later, from 29-31 March 2015, Typhoon Maysak struck Micronesia, with terrible devastation to the Chuuk and Yap islands. The impact of these storms for children and their families is huge. In particular, children are at risk from diarrhea, respiratory infections, fevers, vaccine preventable diseases and under nutrition.

Many schools have also been damaged, destroyed or temporarily occupied by people who lost their homes. Thus children and teachers need assistance to get back to school and learning, with special post-emergency psycho-social care to aid their recovery from trauma and loss.

UNICEF is reaching out through the 2015 Fiji Airways OFC Champions League, being held from 11-26 April in Fiji, to ask for support of the recovery for children and their families.

“The OFC Fiji Airways Champions League is one of the most popular competitions in our calendar and reaches a regional and global audience,” OFC President David Chung says.

“We are eager to capitalise on this audience to help support UNICEF’s Humanitarian Action for Children, appealing for children affected by the Pacific Cyclone and Typhoon”.

UNICEF Pacific Representative Dr. Karen Allen explains that the first wave of support from many kind people and governments has reached most, but not yet all, children. Continued support is required to keep life-saving aid going and, very importantly, to help parents, teachers and health care providers to properly care for children even as they struggle to rebuild their homes, gardens and livelihoods.

“UNICEF currently has about 65 per cent of the funds required to provide access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene, lifesaving health and nutrition interventions, education and protection. An additional US$2 million is still needed,” Allen says.

By calling for donations during the 2015 Fiji Airways OFC Champions League, with the help of popular music group Rako Pasefika, OFC and UNICEF hope to raise some of the additional funds required. All donations can be made at www.supportunicef.org/cyclonedonate

All donations made during the tournament will support UNICEF to ensure that affected children in Vanuatu receive healthcare and immunisation, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, emergency relief, protection and more.

With partners such as OFC, the Ministry of Youth and Sport and the Australian and New Zealand Governments, UNICEF continues to work closely with the Governments of Micronesia, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu to support response efforts.

In addition to supporting the UNICEF Humanitarian Appeal, OFC and UNICEF, through the ‘Just Play’ programme, are also using sports and community engagement to reach out to children in Vanuatu and other countries, as part of recovery efforts. Just Play staff, teachers, and community volunteers are helping to disseminate critical information and to re-engage children through active participation.

Through Just Play, children are learning the importance of ensuring their drinking water is clean, where to access services, and how to keep themselves and their families safe in the aftermath of Cyclone Pam.

Helping to spread the message for this campaign is Rako Pasefika, a Fijian group with a wide following in the Pacific, who will open the tournament at ANZ Stadium in Suva on 11 April. Following their performance, defending champions Auckland City Football Club will play the opening match against hosts Suva Football Association.

Live coverage of the OFC Champions League will be available throughout Fiji and the Pacific Islands. All Suva matches will be live on Sky Pacific Pay-Per-View with selected matches delayed on three free-to-air channels; FBC TV, Fiji 1 and Mai TV.

All Tafea and Amicale matches will be live on VBTC, while Auckland City and Team Wellington encounters, in addition to the semi-finals and finals, will be live on Sky Sport in New Zealand. In Japan, J-Sports will be broadcasting both semi-finals and the final.

For fans outside of those nations, match highlights and full-match replays will be posted on the OFC YouTube page within 48 hours of the matches taking place.

Fans can still follow all the matches live, with text updates on the OFC website, oceaniafootball.com, and the official OFC twitter feed OFCFootball.