Developing community sport in the Pacific region

Local children enjoying community organised sport
When the youth are busying playing sport they are using their time in a positive way

28 Jul 2008

The capacity of individuals and organisations to provide quality, participation based community sport programs is being built in communities in Vanuatu, Samoa, Nauru, Kiribati and Fiji through the Australian Sports Commission’s Australian Sports Outreach Program (ASOP).

One of the key aims of ASOP is to build capacity so communities can deliver their own sports programs.

In Vanuatu ten new instructors from rural islands were trained in sport administration, coaching and officiating and Pikinini Plei Plei, a games-based program designed for children. They will pass these skills onto youth leaders in each community so that they able to run their own Nabanga Sport program.

The Nabanga Sport Program kicked off in Vanuatu in September last year. Alwyn Job, the National Coordinator of the program in Nabanga knows the benefits of this community based sport for development program will be huge.

'If the youth are busy playing sport, organising the draws and coaching the pikinini (children) they are using their time in a positive way. They are challenged and they also get to use new skills, like organising an event, being part of a committee and taking on leadership roles,' Job said.

The Program’s instructors also addressed how to manage some of the significant challenges faced in running sport in rural communities like modifying games and equipment to use local resources, and how to work with community chiefs, leaders and youth to ensure community ownership and commitment to the program.

Village elders are right behind the program, encouraging young people to join teams and also to enrol in nationally accredited courses.

Programs like the Nabanga Sport Program aim to contribute to sustainable benefits in health, education, leadership, and social cohesion. In addition, national, provincial and local government and non government organisations are being assisted to develop sports systems to ensure these community programs can be supported on an on-going basis.


The Design Process

The design of the Nabanga Sport program followed a comprehensive process led by a team of local stakeholders and the Australian Sports Commission. Visits by the design team to several communities across four islands were an important part of that process, and the lengthy discussions with chiefs, women’s groups, church leaders, youth and children were invaluable for building quality into the design. The design process used the innovative appreciative inquiry approach will involved building on a community’s strengths to achieve a shared vision and employs behaviour change and capacity building strategies.

Some of the statements below helped develop key strategies in the design.

‘There is a lot of boredom for young people in rural areas and because many leave school very early, there is a lack of opportunity to learn any new skills.’ Provincial government official, Pentacost.

‘Parents are beginning to support sport because they see the changes that sports are bringing to towards attitude and building character of boys in our community.' Members of the boys soccer team, Ambae.

‘We would be motivated to volunteer each week if it meant we get respect from the community and especially community leaders.’ 16 year old girl, Pentacost.

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