By MADIU YAMES
A SOCCER link has been established between Papua New Guinea Football Association (PNGFA) and Alotau Soccer Association (ASA) earlier this month in Alotau.
The connection was depicted with the presentation of a traditional Kula trade item called the mwali to PNGFA chief John Kapi-Natto by Alotau Soccer Association. The link signifies strength, power and bond in the true spirit of soccer in a similar experiences with the famous Kula trade.
The traditional trade item mwali that circulates and connects most islands and parts of mainland in Milne Bay has definitely sailed out of its normal trade ring and has landed on the hands of a new chief purposely to satisfy the young and rising Eastern Stars in the province.
Kula Ring trade, Christianity and soccer are always embedded in the livelihoods of every Milne Bay people and the trend still continues in the rural areas.
Even chiefs still today organise friendly soccer matches along the Kula Ring against their rival Kula partners to show their supremacy and popularity over others.
In Milne Bay, to win a gold medal in soccer matters most – more than any other gold medal in other codes, like what had transpired in the Kokopo PNG Games some years back when Team Milne Bay won the gold medal.
The merge this time around has therefore set a new stage for Milne Bay soccer talents to be directly exposed to any PNGFA-sanctioned tournaments and also benefit from its programs through Alotau Soccer Association.
As majority of the youths in Milne Bay are passionate about soccer and the move by the PNGFA president to reconnect Milne Bay with the main body through Alotau Soccer Association will be seen as a one of the solutions to the current spike in law and order problem in the once peaceful Milne Bay province.
The good news came about with the visitation of PNGFA President John Kapi-Natto and his officer Stanley Khanna to establish official dialogue and create a pathway for Alotau Soccer Association for its permanent membership to the main body after being left in the doldrums for 14 years.
Alotau was dismissed in 2007 as a member of PNGFA after it sided with Football Federation Papua New Guinea (FFPNG) when PNGFA office was suspected of not administered in a desired manner.
Kapi Natto and Khanna arrived on July 2 and made courtesy visits to the office of Alotau Town Mayor Gita Elliot, Milne Bay Administrator Ashan Numa and the Member for Alotau Charles Abel.
Soccer development and its decentralisation to the grass root level was the main topic of discussion in their courtesy visit.
A consultative meeting was later hosted for club officials and stakeholders at Driftwood Resort the next day and the meeting turned out to be a success.
The consultative meeting began with a warm welcome and an outline of ASA executives priorities by ASA President Livinai Lepani.
“We have clearly outlined our priority areas and that is to approach soccer development through children completion and also to improve governance and management in the association,” Lepani said.
PNGFA manager for Member Associations Stanley Khanna shed a light about one of Alotau Soccer Association products named Mossie Milubwa who is now making waves in Lae city. He aspires to see more Milne Bay soccer stars to follow Milubwa’s footsteps.
Mayor and patron of ASA Gita Elliot thanked PNGFA for coming to create a new link with ASA for the betterment of soccer in the province.
PNGFA President John Kapi-Natto gave an overview of PNGFA and what his executive aspire to achieve in his term as the president.
He also revealed that one of his main tasks was to bring back the other nine other soccer associations in PNG that were terminated in the past PNGFA regime and Milne Bay was one of them.
Alotau MP Charles Abel thanked PNGFA for its vision to involve everyone and looks forward for PNGFA programs to cascade down to reach most rural youths in the province.
A tour was also organised for Kapi Natto and Khanna after lunch. Both had the opportunity to travel along the coastline to the eastern tip of PNG, East Cape, and back.
The president then launched the Alotau Soccer Association proper season on Saturday and flew out to Port Moresby on the same day.
Another visit to Alotau is expected soon when all instruments is set to be finalised for Alotau Soccer Association’s eligibility for permanent membership in the PNGFA.