By JACK AMI
IT has been a hectic two weeks of Fifa Under-20 Women’s World Cup action and all will come to an end at the National Football Stadium in Port Moresby on Saturday.
Bringing the U20 World Cup to Papua New Guinea was a great opportunity to promote and develop the game in the country, according to Fifa amabassador Alex Scott.
“PNG should have the confidence and work on that to move forward,” Scott said.
The success of the host city in providing a positive environment for the tournament has garnered support from the sport’s stakeholders and fans, as well as the public, who had their say in a recent Off the Cuff public forum in The National.
While many fans and casual observers were happy with the hosting of the World Cup, they said the challenge was what happened after the tournament.
One commentator said with playing facilities already in place, the next step was to develop sports academies in the country, not only for soccer but other codes as well, to complement the physical development.
Another said the challenge now was for sports academies to be set up in each province, counterfunded by the national and provincial governments, to teach and train prospects from an early age and create a sporting culture.
With most of the sports infrastructural development centred in Port Moresby and Lae, other provinces should be granted access to the facilities.
There was an abundance of talent in the provinces that needed to be groomed and developed by certified top-level coaches and trainers.
While some have been critical of the performance of the PNG U20 women’s team, they did not into account the background of women’s football in the country let alone compared it to the visiting nations — PNG are behind but not have the impetus to catch up.
Despite not winning a match in one of the World Cup’s most competitive groups (A), PNG’s improvement from game-to-game was measurable as well as palpable.
It was a testament to coach Lisa Cole’s ability to prepare a side with little to no formal background in the sport and with a year or two in experience playing at a level anywhere near those of the other countries, they debuted.
One thing that critics should be proud of is that the home-grown talents played the full 90 minutes of football and performed to the best of their abilities.
The vast majority of local fans supported their U20 side and despite being out-classed in their matches, Papua New Guineans were proud of the enthusiasm and determination shown by Cole’s charges in the face of massive odds.
By JACK AMI