By HENRY MORABANG
LOSING two members of your family within the space of three years is a painful experience for anyone.
Despite being an independent young woman, Joy Tsuga never fully enjoyed life without her late brother Septeen and dad Russell Tsuga.
As a six-year-old whose fascination with soccer developed while growing up in the vicinity of the former Bisini Soccer grounds, Tsuga, now 18, cherishes the time spent with her dad and brother at the city’s premier football venue every weekend.
The part-Bougainville and Gulf soccer star lost her brother after a car accident in July 2012, and two years later in September last year, her dad passed on.
The loss caused young Tsuga’s football career to take a nosedive until her elder sister, Claire, and loving mother, Christine, persuaded her to follow her dream in soccer.
Foremost was Tsuga’s desire to emulate Claire’s feat in representing the country.
Coincidently, Tsuga was selected in the Under-17 girls team for the World Cup qualifier in 2012, and the same year, Claire was in the senior women’s team that lost to New Zealand Ferns 7-0 in Lae.
Both girls strode on as dad Russel was an Oceania Fifa-accredited referees’ inspector.
Though they did not follow their father in blowing the whistle, they did well in their own way to become representative footballers.
Tsuga said the loss of her family members inspired her to become part of the PNG team for next month’s Fifa U20 Women’s World Cup and she has since striven to win one of the spots in coach Lisa Coles’ final 21-man squad.
She said her late father and mum Christine played an important part in helping her in football career.
The Tsuga family is synonymous with Mungkas football club in Port Moresby.
Recently, Mungkas scooped double honours by taking out the men’s and the women’s title in the PMSA-sponsored FA Cup tournament.
Tsuga said she was selected to represent Port Moresby at the Besta Cup before she got the nod to play for the country.
She says the highlight of her career was the trip to US and seeing how women’s football was played at the highest level.
Young Tsuga idolises her teammate and former PNG midfielder, Sandra Birum and is a fan of Manchester United’s Nani.
She said she was happy to represent the country at the World Cup, and she would give her best, using her experience to support the team.
Tsuga said the team’s trips to South Korea and US helped build her confidence.
“Women can do what men can, probably better,” Tsuga said.
By HENRY MORABANG