Pacific Sports Partnerships COVID-19 innovation and timeline updates

Pacific Sports Partnerships (PSP) acknowledge the huge effort and sacrifices being undertaken by our partners and the broader Pacific sporting community during these challenging times.

However, with challenge comes opportunity, and several PSP partners have responded to the changed circumstances under COVID-19 lockdowns by innovating in the delivery of their programs, which could have lasting benefits for participants and Pacific communities.

This month, three of our partners presented their innovative responses to COVID-19 on an international sharing community Zoom call facilitated by the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation to an audience of sport for development practitioners from across Asia and Europe.

This was a rare and beneficial opportunity to showcase Pacific activities and COVID-19 responses to a global audience, and has resulted in new connections between PSP partners and international organisations.

Lavenia Yalovi, Just Play Program Manager for the Fiji Football Association, explained how the Just Play program’s expertise in disaster response has allowed them to shape programming to deliver key health messages for communities to tackle COVID-19. Just Play recently updated their water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) curriculum, which has created a suite of resources that use football to deliver important information about hand-washing and other preventative measures.

Mark Mom, Pacific Program Coordination for the National Rugby League (NRL), outlined how their teams in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Tonga have adapted the delivery of their program to meet current restrictions. This includes streaming short sessions on social media to encourage people to stay active at home, recording sessions for TV broadcast, running art and drawing competitions for children in lockdown, and creating health messaging videos.

Melissa Fare, Marketing Manager for Vanuatu Cricket Association (VCA), presented on VCA’s successful recent live streaming of their women’s cricket final, which attracted a global audience of nearly 500,000 at a time when no other live cricket, and almost no live sport, was happening around the world. The initiative was covered by international media and drew new fans, particularly from India and Australia. VCA will continue weekly live streaming of its new men’s T10 competition from late May to capitalise on global interest.

Restrictions on sport, gatherings, travel and movement related to COVID-19 have necessitated changes to the planned rollout of the next phase of Australia’s sport for development program in Asia-Pacific, the Australian Sports Partnerships Program (ASPP).

ASPP, which was previously scheduled to start on July 1, 2020 in the Pacific, will now commence on January 1, 2021. The PSP transition program will be extended until December 31, 2020 to allow current partners to continue their programming for the rest of this year.

Application assessments for ASPP will resume in May, with successful applicants to be notified by late August.