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Pacific sports partnership program well underway


Activities are already well underway to implement the new Pacific sports partnerships program, which was announced by Prime Minister of Australia Kevin Rudd at the Pacific Islands Forum.

This program will establish and support sport for development programs through partnerships between the Australian Government (through AusAID and the Australian Sports Commission), Australian national sporting organizations, and Oceania regional sports federations and their Pacific Islands counterparts. Initial sports targeted include cricket, football (soccer), netball, rugby league and rugby union.

'The sports activities will benefit young people, particularly those who do not always have access to structured sports programs,' said Martin Roberts, manager of Pacific sports partnerships at the Australian Sports Commission. 'The program is essentially about building the capacity of local sports federations to deliver what the partner countries have identified as most important to them, including some specific development outcomes in the area of social health initiatives and youth engagement'.

To implement the Pacific sports partnerships program, the partners will work together to share resources, strategies and programs. The aim is to promote collaboration and improve participation pathways for players, administrators, coaches and officials.

The initial development of the partnership is a three-step process. First, each organization does an audit of their capacity, concerns and reasons for being interested in the partnership. Second, the organizations come together to develop a partnership agreement that outlines the shared interests and the way the partnership will be managed. Third, the agencies involved in the implementation of the activities come together to develop a work plan that describes how the activities will run.

'This approach is different to grants we have had from organizations,' said Tai Nichols, secretary-general of Oceanic Football Confederation. 'In this partnership, each organization has a role to play and has to be really aware of what they can contribute and why they are keen to be part of the team.'

Although it is early in the partnership process, Roberts is excited about the program. 'It will see significant delivery of sport for development programs in a range of sports throughout the Oceania region building on the successful work of the Australian Sports Outreach Program and the sports federations in the Pacific region'.

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