By HENRY MORABANG
Becoming the first woman in Papua New Guinea to receive an Oceania Football Confederation coaching B-licence has left Margaret Aka, pictured, feeling both humbled and grateful.
The former international said the path to achievement had been long and arduous and without the backing of the Papua New Guinea Football Association and her colleagues, she would not have made it to the end.
“I have to thank PNGFA for giving me the opportunity to be involved in football and the OFC technical team for providing that pathway for me to be an accredited coach,” Aka said.
“It wasn’t an easy road to achieving the OFC B-licence. I’ve sacrificed a lot of family time, and the hard work and persistence have paid off in the end and I certainly wouldn’t have done it without the support and assistance from a lot of great people around me.
“The OFC technical department had a lot of influence over my decision to take up coaching, especially technical director Patrick Jacquemet and former women’s football development officer Nicola Demaine.
“It was through Frederica Sakette, the former PNGFA women’s football development officer, that I got involved as a volunteer so she’s had a big part to play in my coaching too.”
When her playing career came to a close after almost 20 years, Aka knew she had more to offer.
As a volunteer Aka was soon given an opportunity to attend a grassroots coaching course and hasn’t looked back since. She has led the OFC Just Play Programme in PNG and in 2014 found herself in-charge of the national Under-15 girls’ team which competed at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China.
It was this opportunity which really set Aka on her coaching journey as she then went on to lead the Papua New Guinea U17 women’s team to silver at the OFC U17 Women’s Championship in 2016.
Aka credits the numerous players she has had the pleasure of working with for helping shape her style and philosophy.
By HENRY MORABANG