"Just Play" to feature at Commonwealth Youth Games

A series of initiatives and public engagement activities will take place at next month's Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa, it was announced.

Run in conjunction with the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), the Commonwealth Secretariat and children's charity UNICEF, the activities include workshops and “Just Play” fan zones, where young locals, athletes and visitors will be able to participate in interactive games.

The workshops will be held on a rotational basis each day for athletes and officials and will be delivered by representatives from the Commonwealth Youth Sport for Development and Peace, a group of young sports leaders from across the region.

It is hoped the initiatives will inspire those who attend the Commonwealth Youth Games, scheduled to take place from September 5 to 11, and will help form new friendships for many of those who come to the event.  

The announcement was made to coincide with UN International Youth Day and CGF chief executive David Grevemberg praised the partnership ahead of the Games.

“We’re thrilled to be joining forces with the Commonwealth Secretariat and UNICEF to enable innovative projects at this year’s Commonwealth Youth Games which will engage, inspire and support our young Commonwealth athletes and young Pacific Island hosts,” he said.

“In line with our strategic ambitions, we hope the programme will have a lasting impact, recognising our young Commonwealth citizens as essential to achieving sustainable human development.”

The “Just Play” scheme, an Oceania Football Confederation programme, promotes sport for children and helps to reduce vulnerability for some youngsters in difficult areas of the Pacific.

Young people are given the chance to play sports such as football as well as learning about non-communicable diseases, poor nutrition and gender equality.

“Sport is a powerful development tool to engage children and young people across the world,” UNICEF representative Karen Allen added.

“Within the Pacific, since the programme’s inception in 2009, Just Play has attracted more than 200,000 girls and boys to engage in physical activity and learn healthy lifestyle habits and self-confidence. 

“The programme also encourages gender equality, promotes social inclusion and reduces anxiety after natural disasters.

“For the Commonwealth Youth Games, UNICEF and Just Play have partnered with CGF to showcase how sport in the Pacific is helping make a positive impact on children’s lives.”

The event in Samoa will feature 1000 young athletes aged 14 to 18, who will compete for 107 medals in nine sports across five days of competition.