By ISAAC LIRI
TEAM PNG will not be sending soccer teams to the Pacific Mini Games in Port Vila, Vanuatu from Dec 4-17.
Team PNG’s chief of delegation Emma Waiwai confirmed that during the FM 100 Sports Breakfast show last Saturday.
In previous communications between the PNG Olympic Committee and the PNG Football Association, the decision was made that no football team would be sent.
PNGFA was given another opportunity to reconsider but it stood by the initial decision.
“PNGFA decided that they will not be sending their men’s and women’s teams which is very disappointing for us,” Waiwai said.
“It’s only the Pacific Games where football is a qualifying event but not in the Mini Games but still it would have been good for the sport to take part in such events.
“If the sport is on offer we should take it up because if the teams or the national federations look at it, the cost for the national federations is the levy that we impose and the competition uniforms.
“Everything else is covered by the PNG Olympic Committee, so we would expect all national federations to participate.
“Initially when PNGFA said to drop the team their main reason was funding.
“I suppose that during that time, the PNG men’s football team (Kapuls) were doing really well and the assumption was that they would go on to the next leg of the Fifa World Cup qualifiers.
“So looking at that, it was going to be a really big ask for the federation to send its teams to the Mini Games.”
PNGFA clarified their position in a statement , saying that they had made assessments on the decision to not take part based on three main reasons.
The first was that unlike the main Pacific Games, the Pacific Mini Games is not sanctioned in terms of football ranking under OFC and Fifa.
Secondly, it was too costly for the PNGFA to send teams to the Mini Games which would only be preparation for the main Pacific Games.
Lastly, PNGFA had its own direction in moving forward which views the Pacific Mini Games was not one of its priorities and the absence from the games would not affect the growth of football in the country.
By ISAAC LIRI