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Fiji U-20, Amicale visit schools

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Through a joint partnership, UNICEF and Oceania Football Confederation have joined to celebrate 25 years of children’s rights during this year’s inaugural OFC President’s Cup.
One aspect of that partnership is giving participating teams an adopted school based in west Auckland, near The Trusts Arena, where the tournament is being hosted. Amicale have been paired with Henderson Intermediate and the Fiji U-20 with Lincoln Heights School.
Amicale captain Esava Naqelecca says interacting with children is part of his club’s philosophy, which is why they leaped at the chance to be involved.
“We’re really excited to be here today and sharing our knowledge about the game with these kids,” Naqelecca says.
“That’s what Amicale is all about, interaction with kids, sharing knowledge about football and just helping people – it’s what football is all about.”
Naqelecca’s new teammate Adrian Ucchino called it a great opportunity for the players and children alike.
“To get involved with the kids and show them a few skills is good, but we have also been able to encourage them on what to eat and how to stay healthy which I think is great for the kids growing up.”
Jordan McEwan, a student at Henderson Intermediate, says the meet and greet with Amicale was an amazing opportunity.
“It was awesome! I got all their autographs and we got to play with them,” he says.
“It’s so exciting to meet a real, live football team and when we watch them play in the tournament, knowing I’ve met them all is going to make it even cooler.”
McEwan says he learned a lot from the experience.
“They taught us some skills with the ball, how to dribble, but also that you have to drink a lot of water and eat healthy to be a really good, professional footballer.”
As well as taking part in a Question and Answer session with the students, the players were able to run through some basic drills with them – something the Fiji U-20 players used to show off their impressive ball skills.
Lincoln Heights School student Johnny Coutts says his favourite part of the visit from the Fiji squad was checking out their skills.
“They’re really good! I’ve never seen them on TV but their skills were just unbelievable, I was surprised,” he exclaims.
“I think the most impressive thing was the Round the World.
“A bit of practice and maybe I’ll be able to do it one day,” Coutts says.
Fiji U-20 midfielder Garish Prasad says he was just as impressed by the students and their skills – but the sheer delight the students got out of meeting the team was what impressed upon him the most.
“This was my first experience and I would have to say that it was really good to meet the children,” he says.
“It’s a really big thing for me because it’s the first time I’ve seen kids being really big fans of us. It’s quite surprising really that they would want our autographs, but quite an amazing feeling.”
The school visits will continue tomorrow with Bahrain club Busaiteen FC visiting Waitakere SDA and Bodden Town FC from the Cayman Islands calling in on Flanshaw Road School.
The celebrations will culminate with the Just Play Sports Day on 20 November, during the OFC President’s Cup, at The Trusts Arena when over 400 students from participating west Auckland schools will experience the award-winning Just Play Programme in action.