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Papua New Guinea

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Using the power of football in Papua New Guinea. / Credit: PNG Olympic Committee

Healthier, safer and more inclusive communities

Kicks 4 Kokoda (K4K) is a new and unique partnership for the historic Kokoda region, using the power of football to connect young women and men with the mentors, information and health services they need to grow, develop and thrive. 
To do so, K4K is bringing together three organisations’ expertise: Kokoda Track Foundation’s (KTF) long-established networks and extensive operations in the region, including health facilities throughout the Kokoda catchment; the Papua New Guinea Olympic Committee’s (PNGOC) commitment to excellence in sport and the values that underpin it – Excellence, Friendship and Respect; and Grassroot Soccer’s (GRS) proven global track record in delivering adolescent-focussed programs that educate, inspire and mobilise youth to overcome their greatest health challenges, live healthier, more productive lives, and become agents for change in their communities.
Through the fun and camaraderie of football, the ‘world game’ that appeals to both girls and boys, we’ll help the Kokoda region’s large youth population overcome some of the challenges they face including limited access to quality health services and referral pathways, inequality of girls and boys, and a high incidence of gender-based violence. At this vulnerable age (12-19 years old), access to accurate information and fundamental health services is critical for positive development. 
We’re focusing on two communities in Oro province - Kou Kou village near Kokoda and Buna on the Northern Beaches – home to KTF health facilities.  These aid posts will become programs hubs, with experienced Community Health Workers co-ordinating the program, and coaches recruited from their trusted network of Village Health Volunteers in the surrounding regions. Alongside elite Olympic athletes, Village Health Volunteers will be trained as youth-friendly ‘K4K SKILLZ’ coaches 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.
K4K SKILLZ coaches will regularly deliver ‘Relationship SKILLZ’, an eight-session, mixed-sex, sport-based learning intervention. As mentors and role models, they will promote active engagement in sport and support adolescents to navigate the health system while encouraging health-seeking behaviours in the community. To ensure the available services meet the needs of young people, K4K SKILLZ coaches will support adolescents to engage the design and development of youth-friendly corners at the KTF aid posts. 
The program will be complemented by events that will become a highlight on the community calendar – biannual sporting tournaments hosted by the PNGOC and led by the elite Olympic athletes trained as K4K SKILLZ coaches. The inclusive tournaments will champion inclusive engagement in sport – by females, males and people with a disability – and will further inspire all athletes to embody the Olympic values of Excellence, Friendship and Respect. These sporting events will also double as unique service delivery points for health 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 that is conducive to reaching parts of the population who may not typically seek care at health facilities, including adolescents. 
We’re integrating youth-friendly sport programming into the community health-care setting and introducing 500 adolescents to the vibrant world of sport in a safe and gender-inclusive manner. We’ll set the stage for women and girls to actively participate in sport while strengthening community cohesion and building young people's self-efficacy, leadership capacity, and peer networks. Ultimately, Kicks 4 Kokoda will leverage the transformative power of sport to support a positive shift in the enabling environment and contribute to the reduction of structural and societal barriers to gender equality and wellbeing such as teen pregnancy, harmful gender norms, and violence against women.


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