|Ministers of Sport from across the Pacific (Photo: Phototek)|
Also in attendance were representatives from the Australian Sports Commission (ASC), Oceania National Olympic Committee (ONOC), Oceania National Olympic Committee (OSFO) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).
The Sports Ministers Meeting at TelstraClear Pacific Centre aimed to facilitate discussion around the government’s role in using sport as a tool for community development.
OFC President Reynald Temarii says hosting the meeting in conjunction with the conference made sense as it enabled ministers to interact with their youth representatives and deliberate on issues relating to sport for development.
“This meeting was effective because it not only involved ministers but also regional stakeholders like ONOC, SPC, OSFO and the ASC. It is important that the decisions made during the meeting are followed up effectively and to achieve this we need a co-ordinated regional approach.”
During President Temarii’s presentation, he emphasized the need to re-iterate the values of the Declaration of the Pacific Leaders in 2004, the strategic objectives of the Pacific Plan and resolutions of the Sports Ministers Meeting in Rarotonga last October.
Temarii also explained how OFC has been using football as a tool for education, economic development, empowering women, public health, active citizenship and cultural exchange.
Ministers congratulated OFC for the quality of its projects, the diversity of its resources and strategies relating to social and human development. In particular they praised OFC for its intitative to host the Pacific Youth and Sports Conference and it was agreed a Secretariat will be set up to organise the event every three years.
Although it is proposed that the next conference be held in Manukau, ministers from New Caledonia, Samoa and Fiji expressed an interest. A formal bidding process will follow.
OFC prompted debate with the ministers to consider proposals that could benefit all sports such as:
• Tax exemptions for construction materials for national sports facilities
• Tax exemptions for sports equipment and educational materials
• A proposal for Australia and NZ Governments to waive visa fees for sports teams and officials entering their countries to play sport
• The possibility of a co-ordinated school holiday calendars across the region
• A collaborative effort to support training for TV, radio and new media journalists
• Endorsement of the FIFA/CIES/OFC/USP sports management degree across the region
• The possibility of offering national sports facilities to sports codes for free or discounted rate
It was agreed that ministers would take these proposals to their respective governments for consideration and endorsement.
A presentation was given by Martin Roberts of the ASC who detailed the Australian Government’s AUD 28million project to support sport for development initiatives in the Pacific. ONOC and the OSFO also described their respective roles in the region.
ONOC Vice President Barry Maister thanked President Temarii for hosting the meeting and expressed his desire for all parties to work closely together in the future.
“OFC is an organisation that takes the initiative and has ideas and plans that it puts into action. I encourage those around this table to get on board as they are going places quickly.”
Ministers agreed to consider the proposals put by OFC and if necessary support their possible inclusion as agenda items at the next Pacific Island Leaders Forum in Vanuatu later this year. They also agreed to reconvene the meeting in three years during the next Pacific Youth and Sports Conference in 2013.