Photo courtesy of Nicole Banister.

Adapted from an earlier press release.

Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (Nov. 9, 2017) – Three major stakeholders came together to address the intersection of health, sport, and youth in Papua New Guinea via an innovative workshop held in Port Moresby. The event, sponsored by ExxonMobil and supported by the Papua New Guinea Olympic Committee, brought together local youth–focused organizations to share best practices. It also introduced participants to the impact model of Grassroot Soccer, an adolescent health organization that leverages the power of soccer to educate, inspire, and mobilize at-risk youth in developing countries to overcome their greatest health challenges, live healthier, more productive lives, and be agents for change in their communities.

“Adolescents often face unique challenges around health issues, including lack of health knowledge, behavioral risks, negative peer pressure, and difficulty accessing health services. Providing health education and life skills during adolescence can set young people up for a healthier life,” commented Sarah Miller, Grassroot Soccer Partnerships Director. “Our methodology combines local trained mentors, a proven curricula incorporating soccer-based activities, and a supportive culture.”

Two issues that are particularly relevant to youth in Papua New Guinea are malaria and gender-based violence. According to the World Health Organization, as recently as 2014 there were 280,000 reported malaria cases in the country and 300 deaths. Meanwhile, statistics from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development from the same year indicate that 33% of women have experienced physical or sexual violence from a partner.

ExxonMobil PNG Community Development Support Manager, Sisa Kini said sport plays an important role in addressing social issues. “We are pleased to support this program so young people of today can be better equipped with information and knowledge that can enable them to be the catalyst for change in their communities,” Kini added.

Sport has a unique role to play in addressing health issues. Sport based programs have been recognized as effective means of empowering young people, increasing their knowledge, promoting communication, negotiation skills, and improving self-efficacy and leadership. During the workshop, participants will work together to identify how a sport-based approach can help fill in gaps in youth health programming and support the achievement of national priorities related to youth development.

ExxonMobil Foundation has been partnering with Grassroot Soccer since 2011. It is in 50 countries, with over 2 million youths reached. This is the first time the program has been extended to Papua New Guinea.

ExxonMobil has also been working with local organisation such as PNG Olympic Committee to reach youth in the PNG LNG project area since 2013.

PNG Olympic Committee Deputy Secretary General Andrew Lepani was pleased to have a range of various organisations represented at the workshop, “Sport brings people together and sport is an enabler for human and sustainable development. We’re excited to have so many participants take part in this workshop as it creates opportunities for greater connections and partnerships amongst organisations using sport for the development of PNG.”