By HENRY MORABANG
GOING down to New Zealand 7-0 in the women’s World Cup qualifier will linger in her mind for as long as she is playing soccer.
Nineteen-year old Gloria Laeli was a member of the Papua New Guinea senior women’s soccer team that lost to New Zealand at the PNG Football Association Academy Oval in Lae.
The return leg of the challenge did not go well after the PNG women’s team were told that their visas were not ready for the trip.
Laeli took a risk posing for this paper with her visas-less PNG passport. The part West New Britain and Gulf lass was wary of an exit notice from the PNGFA hierarcy but nothing happened and she still continues playing soccer.
She said it was a tough decision to make but at her back of her mind, she believed that was the right call.
“I think I did the right thing for the good of the women’s soccer team when I posed for the media with the passport without a visa when the PNG senior women’s team failed to travel for the return leg of the World Cup qualifier against New Zealand early this year.”
The lanky Laeli loves her football.
Inspired by her elder sister, Laeli always wanted to be a star in the sport she loved.
She started playing the game at the age of 10 and followed her familial following of the game owing to the fact that her grandfather was a football star in his own right. Unfortunately, she cannot remember his name.
Laeli played senior football with Mungkas in the Port Moresby Soccer Association competition.
Her performance did not go unnoticed when she was selected to play in the Under-20 championships in Lae in 2013, and then in 2014 she was again selected for the qualifier with the senior women’s team.
In 2015, she was part of the team which lost the women’s World Cup qualifier to New Zealand.
The 19-year-old defender said she learnt a lot from her senior team-mates.
Laeli admitted that sometimes she got distracted by the cheering fans on the sideline but she had learnt to focus on her game.
She was pleased to be part of the team which travelled to South Korea and US, where she picked up some things she never learnt in PNG.
“The game intensity and pressure is something I picked up on the tour when playing against other countries,” Laeli said.
“It will be a big ask for us, but I am sure with the experience from the tour, we can match their pace,” she said.
Laeli said another important aspect of training and the game was communication.
“We have to communicate with team-mates to ensure we execute the game plan, and if possible, to gain a positive result.”
By HENRY MORABANG