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Just Play exhibits to Australia govt

Australian Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Islands, Hon. Richard Marles, MP represented the Australian government after Australia’s Prime Minister, Hon. Julia Gillard received some news that three Australian soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan, she couldn’t attend the photo session.
On arrival at the Tupapa field on Wedensday, Hon. Richard Marles, could see and hear the buzz of excitement with about 80 children from the Takitumu and St. Joseph’s Primary schools enjoying the opportunity to show off their skills and putting on a good 5 minute exhibition of their talents for the Hon. Richard Marles and the rest of the Australian government dignitaries.
“Thank you Australia for Just Play”, shouted the Just Play children to Hon. Richard Marles and the Australian dignitaries as they beamed with smiles and applause.
“We are so excited about our participation in the Pacific sports partnership and our relationship with Oceania Football and also in relation to the Just Play program,” says Hon. Richard Marles.
“The Just Play Program has seen more than a hundred thousand children across the Pacific region begin their experience by playing football,” he said.
He also went on to say that it’s not just participation in this sport but it’s the benefits which come from it like health benefits and that it is a really good way to promote healthy lifestyles and a great way of promoting boys and girls playing together.
The Pacific Sports partnership is providing $15 million across the Pacific and $4 million goes to football and fifty two thousand of that comes to the Cook Islands where over 1,000 children participate in the just play program.
“So this is a great program and we are really proud to be part of it with the Australia Football Federation (AFC) and Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) in delivering this program,” says Hon. Richard Marles.
He expressed gratitude on behalf of the Australian Government to Cook Islands project manager Michelle Paiti and the trained facilitators, for doing a great job.
“You are changing the lives of the people of your country and you are changing your country by what you are doing,” concluded Hon. Richard Marles.
Before jumping in amongst the just play children for a candid moment he turned to them and said, “just keep playing because this is going to bring so much joy throughout your lives and its going to make you live a much healthier life so thank you for having us here today.”
Cook Islands Football President and Oceania Football Confederation Vice President Lee Harmon expressed gratitude to Hon. Richard Marles and the Australian Government for the financial assistance to the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) in order for the Just Play program to be implemented across the Pacific region.
He went on to thank Hon. Richard Marles for attending the Just Play exhibition and photo session.
With so much energy in the just play children they finished off the budding moment by shouting ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie….oi, oi, oi….’ as Hon. Richard Marles laughed in agreement.
Developed by the OFC social responsibility and technical departments, Just Play is designed for children aged six to twelve and promotes physical activity while encouraging community involvement and healthy living.
OFC has worked closely with UEFA, the Australian Government – through its agencies the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) – and Football Federation Australia to implement the programme across the Pacific over a three-year period between 2009 and 2012.
It was launched in the Cook Islands last March at the Takitumu Primary School which was attended by the Minister of Youth & Sports, Secretary of Education, Oceania Football Association’s President David Chung and General Secretary Tai Nicholas, School Principals, Community Group Leaders and recently trained facilitators.
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between partners of this programme, Cook Islands Football Association (CIFA), Ministry of Education (MOE), Ministry of Youth & Sports and Oceania Football Confederation (OFC).
Since then the popular program has spread its wings to two of the outer islands, Atiu and Aitutaki while three facilitator’s courses have taken place here on Rarotonga and the many festivals celebrated in the past year.

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