The National –Monday, January 10, 2011
HEKARI United Football Club has thanked all those who have contributed financially towards their historic participation at the FIFA Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Dec 7-18.
Hekari United FC chairman John Kapi Natto personally extended his thank you and appreciation to major sponsor Mineral Resources Development Company (MRDC), the Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare and the government, and minor sponsors, including the National Gaming Control Board, Bank South Pacific and the PNG Football Association in ensuring Hekari’s participation at the world premier event – the FIFA Club World Cup.
The Port Moresby-based franchise became the first Pacific Island football club, outside New Zealand and Australia, to represent the Oceania region at the World Cup Challenge after their 4-2 aggregate win over Waitekere United FC of New Zealand.
Hekari United FC did not win the match or advance to quarter-finals, but it had won many hearts around the world with their amateur players rubbing shoulders with professionals from other world clubs.
Even FIFA president Joseph Blatter sent his word of congratulations to Hekari United FC on its successful participation and for the fair play spirit.
It takes guts and perseverance to do this, and Hekari United FC did it.
Kapi Natto said participating at the highest level of club football required a lot of time, discipline, commitment and perseverance from the players and the team management – and “I want to commend my players and team management for that”.
Everyone in the Oceania region wrote the PNG champions off but through commitment and discipline, Hekari United FC proved them wrong.
He said his club did not advance into the second stage of the World Cup, however everyone in Papua New Guinea should be proud that they flew the PNG flag on the world stage.
Kapi Natto said the club would not have come this far without financial support from the government and other stakeholders, our families and, importantly, the players for the sacrifice they made in taking the trip.
It was also important that the players learnt a lot on the trip. It was quite an experience for our players to run onto a world-class football stadium like the Mohammed Bin Jayed in Abu Dhabi, UAE, and rub shoulders among some of the best players in the world, he said.
Kapi Natto apologised for not extending his appreciation and words of thanks quickly, and he hoped it was not too late.
“Please, accept my apologies, and thank you all once again for supporting Hekari United FC in last year’s FIFA Club World Cup campaign,” he said.