For a community in the Solomon Islands still rebuilding after a devastating tsunami in 2007, FIFA and Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) have given the gift of hope.
Almost 1,000 'Just Play' equipment bags were donated to 103 primary schools, churches and rural community leaders through the FIFA Football for Hope and OFC Football for life initiatives that support the rebuilding process by promoting engagement in sport.
The donation was made by FIFA and OFC representatives during a FIFA Goal project 'ground-breaking' ceremony at the J F Kennedy Stadium in Gizo, Western Province, where more than 300 enthusiastic youngsters gathered along with government ministers, dignitaries and officials of the Solomon Islands Football Federation (SIFF).
Over 50 people lost their lives during the April 2007 tsunami triggered by earthquakes and 12,000 were left homeless in this idyllic tropical paradise comprising many tiny scattered islands and atolls in the Western and Choiseul Provinces.
OFC President Reynald Temarii says the donation is a gesture of continuing support for the people of Gizo and the surrounding areas. "FIFA and OFC are committed to supporting the development of Pacific communities through various social responsibility programmes and the example in the Solomon Islands is a wonderful testimony for the role that football authorities are engaged," said President Temarii.
FIFA Football for Hope provided USD 100,000 to OFC and SIFF to assist the rehabilitation of the communities and particularly the youth in the devastated areas. A program of activities under the FIFA Football for Hope and OFC Football for Life was arranged to ensure that the plight of the people was understood and the support of FIFA and OFC was communicated.
OFC arranged a two match international series between Fiji and New Zealand in Ba to raise additional funds for the relief efforts in the Solomon Islands, this event culminating in the distribution of the Just Play grassroots football equipment bags at J F Kennedy stadium 'ground-breaking' ceremony.
FIFA Football for Hope funding of USD 50,000 will also leave a lasting legacy for the Western province at the provincial region's main centre football facility, the J F Kennedy stadium. It was announced during the ceremony that the Football for Hope funds would be combined with FIFA Goal III project funding of USD 150,000 to commence works on the rehabilitation of the playing fields and other facilities as phase 1 of the regional technical centre for the Western Province.
With construction works due to commence within the next couple of months for completion by 2010 FIFA Goal and Football for Hope initiatives will certainly build strengths in this community for years to come.