18 health volunteers, teachers and community leaders from Buna and Kou Kou gathered in Kokoda this week to train as coaches for an exciting new sports development program tailored for the region’s youth.
Kicks 4 Kokoda uses the power of soccer to connect young women and men with the mentors, information, and health services they need to grow, develop, and thrive. With long-established networks and extensive operations in the region, development organisation KTF (Kokoda Track Foundation) has partnered with the Papua New Guinea Olympic Committee (PNGOC) and Grassroot Soccer to deliver an adolescent-focussed sports program that educates, inspires, and mobilises youth to overcome their greatest health challenges, live healthier, more productive lives, and become agents for change in their communities.
The new Kicks 4 Kokoda ‘SKILLZ Coaches’ were trained in the ‘Relationships SKILLZ’ curriculum: to understand the mindset and priorities of adolescents; inspire young people to engage in their communities in more inclusive and gender equitable ways; promote inclusivity in sport; and proactively facilitate adolescents’ uptake of sexual reproductive health and gender-based violence services.
Milton Kisapai, Programs Coordinator from PNGOC has been part of the coach training this week.
“We are very excited. PNG Olympic Committee are very strong on supporting sport for development, using the power of sport in order to bring positive changes and behaviours in the community. So this week has been a fantastic week having our local coaches upskilled to deliver the Relationship SKILLZ curriculum.”
On completion of their training, coaches will be equipped to deliver a fun suite of soccer-based activities that provide vital information on challenges that 12- to 19-year-olds might face, including access to quality health services and referral pathways, inequality of girls and boys, and a high incidence of gender-based violence. Mixed coaching pairs will deliver a nine-session, mixed-gender program based at KTF’s health facilities at Buna and Kou Kou, covering topics identified as relevant to the youth of the region during the program’s design. At this vulnerable age, access to accurate information and fundamental health services is critical for positive development, particularly for young women.
The program will be complemented by events that are set to become a highlight on the community calendar – sporting tournaments hosted by the PNGOC and their elite athletes. The tournaments will champion inclusive engagement in sport – by females, males and people with a disability – and will also double as delivery points for health and related service providers to increase general community awareness on sexual reproductive health and rights, gender-based violence, and to facilitate access to primary health care services in a non-traditional setting.
Kicks 4 Kokoda is a Team Up partnership, one of many across Asia-Pacific that use sport to bring people together, champion inclusion and create opportunities. Team Up is supported by the Australian Government.
Ultimately, Kicks 4 Kokoda’s coaches aim to leverage the transformative power of sport to support a positive shift in social norms that contribute to increased gender equality and improved wellbeing, all while having fun.