PNG women keep heads up despite criticism

Sports

By ISAAC LIRI
FEELING rejection from supporters can cause a psychological breakdown, but with determination and confidence, one can overcome such attitude from a minority, PNG U20 captain Yvonne Gabong says.
During school visits this week by the PNG women’s soccer team, a few players shared their experiences of how they managed to combat the negativity that appeared on occasion during their matches in the World Cup.
Skipper Gabong said the World Cup gave her a lot of confidence not only to be a strong football player but to also withstand life’s negatives.
“When one reporter asked me after the game how I felt about the crowd leaving the stadium during the first game against Brazil, I told her that I did not see that and if it happened, I didn’t mind,” Gabong said.
She believed that support was there despite the negativity. “Our coach stood beside us.
“We could see support from true Papua New Guineans, our family and friends, everyone was there for us, so I didn’t believe anyone wasn’t there for us.
“We had hope and that hope taught us courage.”
“As a proud Papua New Guinean I played for my country and I will continue to do so. Win or lose, I know I did my best,” the 20-year-old midfielder said.
Defender Gloria Laeli echoed her skipper’s words and said it was tough withstanding the negativity and it only made them stronger and more determined.
“After our first game against Brazil, when we tried to appreciate the support from the crowd they booed us and we felt bad.
“But that did not stop us from going on and playing our next games. We took the bad comments as a challenge to improve in the other games,” the 19-year-old said.
“The bad comments gave us confidence and we stood by each other as a team and faced our opponents,” Laeli said.
With the World Cup now over for PNG, coach Lisa Cole said the girls must be treated as heroines, who stood up to represent their country.
“As a coach I am so proud to be part of this team in this World Cup,” Cole said. “Even though we lost all our games the journey does not stop here. I know the girls will be brave as pioneers of PNG women playing in a World Cup.”

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