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UNICEF and OFC celebrate 25 years of children’s rights with Just Play Sports Days

On Universal Children’s Day (20 November) and as part of the Oceania Football Confederation’s (OFC) inaugural President’s Cup, UNICEF will celebrate 25 years of children’s rights by hosting Just Play Sports Days in ten Pacific Island nations.

In Auckland, more than 400 children from West Auckland schools will gather at Trusts Arena in Waitakere to take part in the award winning Just Play programme, which uses football as a tool to focus on educating children in four key areas; health and wellbeing, gender equality, social inclusion for all children, and keeping children safe.

Vivien Maidaborn, Executive Director at UNICEF New Zealand, said of the milestone celebration, “The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) enshrines every child’s right to equal opportunity, education, protection and health, regardless of their gender, ethnicity or socio-economic status. Equally important, and included in the CRC, is their right to play.

“Play and sport are not luxuries reserved for only a few - they are every child’s right. Play is vital to the wellbeing and future development of children, teaching them important life lessons and giving them skills they need to live together peacefully. 

“25 years on from the establishment of CRC we need innovative ways to realise rights for all children and Just Play does this in a fun and active way.” 

Head of Social Responsibility and International Relations with OFC, Franck Castillo, said of the event, “We have developed a strong and vital partnership with UNICEF and we share the same vision, which is using football as a tool to improve children’s lives. 

“Child protection is one of the four pillars of the Just Play programme and through this platform we are able to compliment UNICEF’s work for children’s rights, both through activities and advocacy campaigns.”

The Just Play programme has already seen enormous success in the Pacific region. Just Play Sports Days will also take place in nine other Pacific Island countries including American Samoa, the Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.

UNICEF Pacific Representative, Dr. Karen Allen said, “In an area of the world where access to information is restricted by poor internet, television and radio penetration, the OFC President’s Cup is a valuable platform that allows UNICEF to communicate important information on children’s rights to a large target audience.”

She added, “The Just Play programme and Sports Days are helping UNICEF and OFC to provide educational opportunities to children through play. Through active participation, children learn about teamwork and fair play. Girls and boys play together and physical activity and exercise has once again become fun.”

OFC President, Mr. David Chung reiterated this by saying, “Children are naturally drawn to sport, recreation and play, which are an important part of childhood. Not only are they important to helping children grow, learn and explore, they are also every child’s right.”


Notes to editors:

Video resources:

Right to Play video:

Realizing the Rights of Children :

Realizing the Rights of Babies :

Realizing the Rights of Adolescents:

Realizing the Rights of Toddlers:

Children’s Rights animation video:

About the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

20 November marks the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the most rapidly and widely ratified international human rights treaty in history. The CRC has made a world of difference in the lives of millions of children, but this historic milestone must serve both as an urgent reminder of the millions whose rights are not realised – and an opportunity to renew our commitment to reach every child, especially the most disadvantaged. 

UNICEF holds a special role in supporting the Convention. Article 45 assigns UNICEF a legal obligation to promote and protect child rights by supporting the work of the Committee on the Rights of the Child. Guided by the provisions and principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, child rights are at the heart of UNICEF’s work.


UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing 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. 

For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: or 

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. For more information on the programme please visit: 

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. For more information about OFC or its 11 Member Associations visit: 

For further information and interviews please contact:

UNICEF New Zealand

Laura Gibbons

Communications Coordinator 

021 911 815




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