UNICEF and the Vanuatu Football Federation (VFF) through the Just Play programme, are collaborating to use existing networks and sport to assist with emergency relief activities in Vanuatu following the category 5 Tropical Cyclone Pam that struck Vanuatu four weeks ago. “The work we are doing through this partnership with the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) and working through our implementing partners at VFF through the Just Play Programme, is an important part of our work to address issues such as psychosocial support. Children may need support to cope with, and overcome, the stress of the cyclone. The use of sport, in this case football, is a powerful tool in the emotional recovery process, allowing children to have fun at a stressful time, connect with each other, collaborate, play and process their experiences” said UNICEF Pacific Representative, Dr. Karen Allen.
Young representatives from the Just Play programme are participating this week in an orientation of peer educators on psychosocial support where they will gain skills to help other children to recover emotionally.
The Just Play programme will also be organising festivals for an upcoming national birth registration campaign that is being launched in Tanna next week. This will be an opportunity for community outreach activities targeting children as well as parents and caregivers.
Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) President and FIFA Vice President, David Chung, has come to Vanuatu this week to show his support for cyclone survivors, visiting affected children from the Just Play programme and their families.
The OFC is also partnering with UNICEF to appeal for funds for the Vanuatu emergency through the two-week OFC Fiji Airways Champions League, a popular regional football competition currently being held in Fiji from 11 – 26 April.
The Just Play programme, was designed and monitored by the Social Responsibility Department of the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC), helping children to grow, learn and explore through sport.