The event was hosted by Matavera and took place at the Takitumu School field. It attracted close to 90 children-a record high for the village of Matavera- joining in the Sport for Development Programme and enjoying the fun-filled activities that were provided by various sports codes.
According to Project Manager Michelle Paiti, the large number wasn’t the only achievement made at the festival.
“For the first time in the village festivals history we had more girls than boys participating in the activities, which was very fitting as we were also celebrating International Women’s Day.”
Another important component fitting to the Day for Women’s theme, social messages by the Gender Division of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Health were delivered during the festival.
“We wanted to link in the issue of Gender towards the theme Pledge for Parity as we found it was appropriate,” says Paiti.
She added, “Also we had Health as another topic of discussion because we wanted to encourage healthy living habits amongst our children, in particular for our young girls to become leaders and role models in this area which is a concern for the Cook Islands who are battling against risky NCD statistics.”
With the growing interest of the Programme amongst the community Paiti was thrilled to see the remarkable support received by parents who are now joining their children at the festivals.
“It is very pleasing to see the increased number of parents encouraging their children throughout the afternoon and supporting our program.”
Joining in the festival for the first time was big sister Tabitha-Berg who brought her partner’s 4-year-old brother along to the event.
“I happened to drive pass the field and noticed a lot was going on, so I got curious and stopped to asked what was going on.”
Realising what the programme was all about Berg returned with her brother.
“I wanted him to come out and socialise with other children his age because he normally sits around at home and has no one to play with.”
She added, “He loved every bit of it, the activities, the freedom of having to express himself throughout different games and mingling with other kids.”
Impressed by the programme Berg will be following the festival around the island.
“I think it’s a great programme offering a variety of activities kids can enjoy and also benefit from.
“I’m glad I found out about this and I will keep bringing my little one to future festivals.”
We would like to acknowledge the continued partnerships of the various sporting codes and ministries involved with the Village Festivals.
The next village festival will be held next month and hosted by Titikaveka. Further details will be advertised closer to time.
Just Play is a sport for development programme supported by Australian Aid, New Zealand Aid, FFA, the UEFA Foundation for Children and UNICEF.