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FFAS completes second Just Play Program workshop

Manatua Tanielu of Lupelele Elementary goes through one of the 11 Just Play Guide sessions on Oct. 9, 2012 during the FFAS Just Play Workshop conducted by OFC Just Play Technical Coordinator Emmie Sope. [photo: FFAS MEDIA]

 A second FFAS Just Play Program workshop that was conducted by OFC’s Just Play Technical Coordinator Emmie Sope was successfully completed on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012.

Eight teachers from six local elementary schools took part in the workshop held at the FFAS’ Pago Park Soccer Stadium.

The Just Play Program is an OFC grassroots program promoting physical activity for elementary-aged children and also encouraging the involvement of the community and pushing for healthy living.

The first Just Play workshop in the territory was held in January of this year.

Other participants of the recent course were FFAS club members that have been involved with the association’s Just Play activities.

CEO Tavita Taumua opened the course and thanked the ASDOE PE office as well as the elementary division for allowing the teachers to take part in the course.

“It’s not only about soccer skills because they are not kicking the ball all the time in the sessions,” Taumua pointed out.  “Some of the sessions touch on other sports such as basketball and volleyball too so I hope you can get as much out of this course as you can.”

Naomi Oney is the FFAS Just Play Manager and she pointed out the targeted age group’s (6-12) enthusiasm for this program.

“Afonotele Elementary was the first school to kick off Just Play and every time they have their sessions the children are always excited about it,” Oney said.

The Just Play instructors were handed manuals and guides as well as two equipment bags filled with bibs, cones, markers and balls.

“For you teachers the main thing is organizing and setting up the activity for the kids,” Sope said during her presentation to the class.  “The FFAS CEO is right, it’s not only about soccer skills as skills for other sports are involved as well.”

OFC has been able to launch the Just Play program to most of its 11 Member Associations with the help of The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), the Australian government and the Football Federation Australia (FAA).

Statistics show that 70,000+ children have taken part in Just Play of which 42% of them are girls and this is an area the program puts emphasis upon.

“The participation of girls is highly regarded as we want them to be very involved in all the sessions,” Sope said.

Sope went on to say that after talks with the FFAS Technical Department they have decided to start the pilot program using three schools.

The pilot is to run for six weeks during which a lot of statistics to be taken down by FFAS personnel with all 11 sessions in the Just Play Guide to be organized and conducted by the teachers.

At the end of the six-week period after submitting an overall report a review and discussion will be held on the improvements needed for the program.

“But it doesn’t mean after the six weeks then you stop, you can still carry on and continue running it at your school,” Sope said.  “American Samoa has a lot of great potential with the program and we are looking forward to seeing the progress reports and results by the end.”

Afonotele elementary launched its Just Play Program in January after the first workshop and have restarted it at the beginning of the school year.

“We are using Just Play in conjunction with (Department of) Public Health’s fight against obesity initiative several weeks ago,” explained Afonotele principal Laborday Atanoa.  “I sent two of our teachers to the first workshop and then had them train all our teachers in helping out with the sessions at our school.

“The kids love the program and look forward to it every week.”

“If a small school such as Afonotele Elementary can embrace the program like a child would a favorite toy, then Emmie has it right that Just Play in American Samoa has a lot of potential,” Taumua said.  “So we will try to push it through to as many schools as possible once our pilot schools have gone through the required six weeks.”



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