The Western India Football Association (WIFA) with the support of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) and Mumbai City FC today announced the launch of the award winning Just Play pilot programme in the state of Maharashtra.
Just Play is an Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) programme developed in 11 Pacific countries in partnership with the Australian Government, the UEFA Foundation, the Football Federation of Australia and UNICEF. Based on the success of the programme in the Pacific, the Football Federation of Australia (FFA) took the initiative with OFC to develop the Just Play programme in India in partnership with the All India Football Federation (AIFF).
The Just Play sessions are expected to begin in 10 schools in Mumbai from March of next year. The Programme is eventually expected to cover approximately 80 schools and reach 30,000 children across Maharashtra by the end of 2017. Besides the Greater Mumbai Region, the programme is also expected to cover schools from parts of Maharashtra such as Kalyan/Dombivali, Ambarnath and Thane.
Speaking on the occasion Aditya Thackeray said ” Football is the most loved sport in the world and Government of India, SAI and WIFA has joined hands with the BMC to promote the sport. Just Play is a movement where the kids will learn about Sanitation , Hygiene and Gender equality along with Football and our aim is to introduce this in all the 1121 municipal schools and we will also be training all the PT teachers of these schools.”
These social objectives were identified based on the fifth five year plan of the Central Government and the consensus of all partners involved. Social messages linked with these two objectives are incorporated in football sessions in a fun and interactive manner.
“We would not only be able to make a meaningful impact on the lives of children but also create pathways between Just Play and our WIFA grassroots programme,“ said Henry Menezes, the WIFA CEO.
Mr Menezes also spoke about involving D-license coaches and sports management students to assist with running Just Play sessions in schools in the future and assist in monitoring the impact of the programme on children and the wider community. “This would be their chance to give back to the community,“ Mr. Menezes added.
Capitalizing on the momentum of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup, an advocacy campaign focusing on ending violence towards women and children will also be formally developed and launched by WIFA early next year.
While FFA and OFC will assist AIFF and control the quality of the programme, Just Play Maharashtra will be implemented by WIFA with people from the state for the people of Maharashtra. Building on the experience from across the Pacific, the programme design recognises that the most critical factor in ensuring long term success as well as sustainability is local ownership.
Franck Castillo, the OFC Head of Social Responsibility along with Supriya Kulkarni Padhye, OFC Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist worked with WIFA to train the future Just Play Maharashtra team on Monitoring and Evaluation as well as Project Management in Mumbai earlier this month.
Just Play is a sport for development programme designed to target children aged 6-12 years. Through the Programme children learn, grow and explore sport in a positive and meaningful way. Through the integration of social messages into all sessions and activities, children learn healthy sanitation habits, encourage gender equality and increase their school and community engagement.
The expansion of the Just Play Programme into India has been made possible because of the support of the Australian Government and the UEFA Foundation for Children.