By HENRY MORABANG
WINNING a medal at last year’s Pacific Games at home is the highlight of goalkeeper Lace Kunei.
She was 18 then and part of the senior women’s team who won the country’s fourth consecutive Pacific Games gold — making them the queens of soccer in the region, apart from New Zealand and Australia.
As a Grade 12 student at Goroka Grammar school, the 19-year-old Madang girl wants to be part of national history, playing in the World Cup at home.
Kunei said for PNG to host the World Cup was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and she wanted to take every opportunity to give her best while playing in front of the home crowd.
She enjoyed last year’s Pacific Games crowd but next month’s Federation of the International Football Associations (Fifa) Under-20 Women’s World Cup promises more than that.
Kunei has been a member of PNG national team at different age-groups, including the senior women’s team.
She plays in the Madang Soccer Association competition. She admires Ishmael Pole’s goalkeeping skills and wants to emulate his feats and play in the World Cup.
Pole played with PNG champions Hekari United, and the national team at the OFC Championships League but not at the World Cup.
Kunei said as a member of the PNG U20 team, she has learnt a lot about life other than football.
She said football was no just a game but about making quick decisions and playing as a team.
“And importantly, I learnt to make positive decisions to score goals and support my team-mates to win matches,” Kunei said.
The Madang lass said the trips to South Korea and US have given her more confidence in playing high level football.
“Playing in US was like playing against professionals,” she said.
“Everything the US team did, they executed professionally and got it right at the first place.
That is something I am keen to adopt,” she said.
Kunei said post-tournament, she would like to complete her studies and help create football awareness.
“I hope to represent women’s football in the years to come and use the sport as a vehicle to drive issues affecting us in PNG,” Scarpa said.
By HENRY MORABANG