Unicef photo

Auckland, New Zealand – On Universal Children’s Day (20 November) Bodden Town FC players and officials participated in the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) President’s Cup and UNICEF Just Play Sports Day.

More than 400 children from West Auckland schools gathered at the Trusts Arena in Waitakere, offering personal accounts on the importance of play to their lives, engaging in on field activities and participating in a football art session.

The ‘Just Play’ programme uses football as a tool to focus on educating children in the areas of health and well being, gender equality, social inclusion for all children and keeping children safe.

Representatives from the six teams competing for the first OFC President’s Cup interacted with the children on the field, adding their input to the vibrant atmosphere created by the students.

“Bodden Town has always been involved in the community,” said Team Manager Kennedy Kelly. “UNICEF Let’s Play day is an extension of Bodden Town’s philosophy as a club, which is to create healthy minds and healthy bodies through sport. We are happy to play our part.”

Tai Nicholas, OFC General Secretary thanked the Cayman club for their support of the initiative.

“I would like to congratulate both Bodden Town and CONCACAF for their participation and their collaboration in the President’s Cup and the activities surrounding the President’s Cup,” Nicholas said.

Many observers in New Zealand, including the OFC top brass, have praised Bodden Town’s willingness to participate in community relations during the tournament and their interaction with youth.

To this Mr. Nicholas added, “I saw the video of Bodden Town visiting the school and their engagement, not only here for a tournament, but the engagement for the community and the social responsibility programme that we have.”

Following the UNICEF initiative, Bodden Town’s players conducted a training session in preparation for a must win match against Auckland City FC on Friday. Nearing the end of training, students from Flanshaw Road School joined in the training session.

Bodden Town Head Coach Elbert Mclean allowed his players to engage the students in discussion on school and the importance off play. The session ended with a blistering 100 metre sprint between the students and players followed by a lusty rendition of a special song prepared for Bodden Town.

UNICEF promotes the rights and well being of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

About Just Play
The Just Play programme is a sport for development programme that helps children to grow, learn and explore through sport. Just Play gives a child a ball, a coach and a safe place to play. The programme shows children how to have fun with other children, be physically active and become confident in their abilities. Through the integration of social messages, Just Play helps children to develop healthy lifestyles habits, encourages gender equality and leaders in the community, promotes social inclusion and insists on sport for all.

About The OFC’s Presidents Cup
The OFC President’s Cup is an invitational tournament bringing together teams from three football regions: the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC), the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football in North America and Central America (CONCACAF).

This tournament supplements the OFC Champions League and serves as a preparation tournament for OFC representatives to the 2014 FIFA Club World Cup and 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup.

About OFC
OFC is charged with the task of servicing and administering football in the Oceania region while also using the game as a tool for social development. The confederation is led by OFC President David Chung who was elected to office in 2011.

The Just Play Programme is designed and monitored by the OFC Social Responsibility department, in partnership with the Australian Government through the Australian Sports Commission, Football Federation Australia, UEFA and UNICEF.