Hopes new Pacific Plan will better reflect role sport can play

A sports oriented NGO is hoping that the role of sport in development will be better reflected in the new Pacific Plan.

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In May Pacific leaders will meet in a special summit in the Cook Islands to consider plans to revamp the Pacific Plan, the region's strategy to achieve closer links.

The Plan has been in force for nearly ten years but can point to few achievements and in 2012 leaders asked for a re-think.

New approaches for the Plan, drawn up by a team led by former Papua New Guinea prime minister, Sir Mekere Morauta, are to be put before the leaders in the Cook Islands.

Civil society groups and others have been among those to make submissions, including Australian based Sport Matters.

Its NGO's chief executive, Jackie Lauff, says there is so much sport could help achieve in terms of development yet it often falls between the cracks when planning decisions are made.

JACKIE LAUFF: So people that are living in poverty often don't get access to the human rights of sport and physical activity. So we see sport as a human right, not something people can do in their spare time once they've got all their other needs met. So to be full and active participants in the community we see sport as the drawcard that brings people together and once they come together we can add, in a targeted way, the meaningful development programme so that the outcomes can really make a difference in people's lives in areas such as health, education, economic development, crossing areas such as gender and disability and I think sport's such a powerful way and an entry point for people to be actively engaged in their community.

DON WISEMAN: Are you doing that at this stage in the Pacific?

JL: Yeah we've got some project in the Solomon Islands where we're working, particularly with the Ministry of Health and Medical Services and also the Ministry of Home Affairs, engaging people with disabilities and promoting their rights through sport. So that project started using basketball and is expanding into other sports at the moment. We're also working on a new project in Timor Leste that's engaging youth across the country and their focus sports are football, basketball and volleyball.

DW: In the new version of the Pacific plan what do you want to see?

JL: We'd really like to see some more ambitious targets in the plan. The previous Pacific Plan did have some indicators embedded in it regarding national, regional and international participation, regarding membership through national federations, and it also included reference to targets specific to sport for people with disabilities. What we'd like to see is some specific targets that embrace the power of sport to make a difference in areas outside of participation.

DW: I would imagine at this point you've had some feedback and, to a certain extent, you're coming from quite a different area to where most of the other NGOs and interest groups are coming from so what sort of support do you get?

JL: I think we're in a really unique position being the first NGO of our kind in Australia and the potential that we have is engaging, definitely Australians - because that's where we're based - but engaging the general public in the potential of sport to make a difference in poverty alleviation, so that's not been done a large scale before. So we see great potential in bringing together new partnerships and that's from sport organisations together with development agencies that are already making a difference but most of the development partners haven't already engaged with sport, so we find that bringing the right partners together can make a really big difference at the grassroots level.


Source: Radio New Zealand International

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