Queen’s Baton debuts in Vanuatu on island of fire

Over 600 children celebrate arrival of the Queen’s Baton to Ambae at Just Play Emergency Programme festivals

Port Vila, 9 December 2017: On 9 December the Queen’s Baton arrived on the island of fire, Ambae, Vanuatu.  Awaiting its arrival were more than 600 children from the Just Play Emergency Programme, at the base of the Manaro volcano.

Through its partnership with the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) launched a sports-based emergency response on 20 November, which supported more than 2000 children forced to evacuate their homes after volcanic action threatened their homes.  In coordination with the Just Play programme, this emergency response programme supported children through Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) centres, primary schools and communities.

“Ensuring children and families are given the right kind of support and messages to support psychosocial recovery after a major event in their lives is important,” said UNICEF Representative, Sheldon Yett. “Parents can start focussing on rebuilding their lives once they can see their children happy and playing – and we can do this through sports,” he added.

Recognizing the important role sport can play in supporting the psychosocial recovery of children after an emergency, the Just Play Emergency programme supported the dissemination of critical messages through play-based sessions and festivals.

“Football has an important role to play both on and off the field. We view the Just Play Emergency Programme as a key component in making positive contributions to the lives of children across the Pacific,” OFC President David Chung said.  “We know that in times of disaster, children and families rely on routine, which sport can provide to help them recover and regain the confidence to move forward.”

Kicking off celebrations for the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Cost, the Queen’s Baton is making its Commonwealth tour.  On its epic journey to the Gold Cost, the baton will cover over 200,000 km in less than 400 days – making its debut in Vanuatu on the East and West of Ambae at the Just Play Emergency Programme festivals.  The baton leverages the power of sport, bringing people together as it is passed hand, to hand, reinforcing inspiring messages of hope, recovery and perseverance for the children of Ambae.

The Just Play Emergency Programme was delivered in partnership with the Vanuatu Football Federation, the Fiji Football Association, the Union of European Football Association (UEFA), UEFA Foundation for Children, Vanuatu Association of Sport and National Olympic Committee (VASANOC) and the Government of Vanuatu.

Related news to the programme: here

Just Play emergency programme set up in Vanuatu

On 28 September 2017, the Vanuatu Council of Ministers declared a state of emergency and ordered the mandatory evacuation of all 11,600 residents of Ambae Island amid the continuous eruption of the Monaro Volcano. The evacuees were relocated across the neighbouring islands of Espiritu Santo, Maewo and Pentecost.  Repatriations started on 21 October, and today around 71% of the Ambae residents are back on home soil. Following the Ambae evacuation and repatriation, concerns relating to the education, health and nutrition, protection and psychosocial support of children remain at the forefront of the emergency response efforts.

Supported by the UEFA Foundation for Children, the latest Just Play emergency programme – developed by the Oceania Football Confederation in partnership with UNICEF – was launched on 17 November on Ambae Island, after having been given the go-ahead by the Vanuatu government-led emergency committee, for a period of five weeks.

The Just Play programme uses football to support the psychosocial recovery of children after natural disasters. Just Play sessions are used to encourage children to draw pictures and to share their experiences and the effects on them and their families, which helps them to start their recovery process. The programme also includes key messages from the government of Vanuatu that are relevant to the context of repatriation. The direct beneficiaries of the programme are children and adolescents aged between 6 and 16.

The objectives of the Just Play emergency programme are to teach children how to keep themselves and their families safe during an emergency and to support their recovery after a natural disaster. The curriculum incorporates key recovery and response messages, which include:

  • coping with an emergency;
  • hand-washing and water safety;
  • food security;
  • general safety and security.

Expected results

  • Over 2,000 children will participate in Just Play emergency programme activities and receive psychosocial support.
  • Children will achieve greater understanding and awareness of how to prepare for and cope with future emergencies.
  • Two large-scale festivals will be organised, engaging a minimum of 300 children.

The Just Play programme has already demonstrated the positive impact it can have. After Cyclone Pam, a category-five tropical storm, devastated Vanuatu in 2015, the Oceania Football Confederation worked with UNICEF to use the Just Play programme platform to provide vital information and support in the aftermath of what turned out to be one of the worst natural disasters in Pacific history, affecting more than 166,000 people, including 82,000 children, across 22 islands. Lessons learned from those emergency response activities were used to develop the Just Play emergency programme into what it is today.

Just Play programme in the Pacific Islands.

Eagles book their place at the 2018 IBSA Blind Football World Championships

The members of the Solidarité Aveugle (Blind Solidarity) project have been rewarded for their perseverance. The Eagles will fly to Spain to represent Mali at the 2018 IBSA Blind Football World Championships.

Visually impaired footballers from all parts of Africa donned their blindfolds and battled it out at the recently held IBSA Blind Football African Championships. Among them were the Eagles of Mali, all members of the Solidarité Aveugle (Blind Solidarity) project run by the French Libre Vue association, who set the tone with a 12-0 victory over Cape Verde in their opening match. “We went with the aim of bringing the cup home and qualifying for the 2018 World Championships,” said Mali forward Bandiougou Traoré.

Efforts rewarded

Qualifying is one thing, but the opportunity to play is another. The Mali team’s participation in the second edition of the IBSA Blind Football African Championships in Cape Verde was no foregone conclusion. And Mali is not alone. Sending a team to an event like this is expensive and, without the support of the relevant authorities, often more than small associations can afford. Financial difficulties prevented Ivory Coast from taking part, for example. Fortunately, however, thanks to the efforts of the Libre Vue association, it was a different story for the Eagles. Having already secured funding from the UEFA Foundation for Children, Libre Vue also set up a successful crowdfunding campaign to fund their participation.

Blind football, an effective tool for social integration

The battle was not in vain, as the Mali team’s determined approach saw them finish in an impressive second place and thus qualify for the IBSA Blind Football World Championships to be played in Madrid from 5 to 18 June 2018.

The Blind Solidarity project gives visually impaired youngsters from Bamako an opportunity to discover blind football and its values, and to increase their self-confidence. A total of 150 young people aged between 7 and 25 participate in the project, which runs five training sessions each week. For Bandiougou Traoré, who has been playing blind football for five years, playing in such a competition is a dream come true. “It’s an honour, it’s something I’m really proud of!” he says. As well as requiring commitment, endurance and concentration, blind football helps to send out a strong message of integration and social cohesion by changing perceptions of disabled people. When they represent their country, blind footballers are not defined by their disability: they are players and nothing else.

The Ideas Box comes to Senegal!

Designed by Philippe Starck, the Ideas Box is a portable toolkit that can be set up in under 20 minutes to create a 100m2 library. The Ideas Box provides an internet connection, touchpads and computers, thousands of books and educational activities, and even a cinema. In addition to its satellite internet connection, the Ideas Box provides access to a local server full of educational and interactive resources.

In May 2016, the first Ideas Box in Senegal, paid for by the UEFA Foundation for Children, will be set up by the Futur au Présent association for streetchildren in Ziguinchor. It will be used by Futur au Present as part of the work it has been doing since 2012 with streetchildren in Ziguinchor and will enable the association to multiply its impact by taking the kit to primary and secondary schools on the outskirts of the city. By organising income-generating activities, the Ideas Box can encourage local entreprise and thus ensure the sustainability of the project.

Before moving to Ziguinchor, the Ideas Box will be on display at the Maison de la Press in Dakar on 20 April, giving visitors the opportunity to discover this exciting new tool and share ideas about how it can be used to shape the library of the future in Senegal.