PNGFA not doing enough for grassroots: Kapi Natto

The National,Thursday June 16th, 2016

HEKARI United franchise owner John Kapi Natto, pictured, says he has the backing of the majority of the Papua New Guinea Football Association’s 18 affiliates and is confident he can unseat incumbent David Chung at August’s ordinary elective congress in Kimbe.
The 12-year reign of Chung as PNGFA president could be coming to an end, with Kapi Natto building momentum in his bid to unseat the incumbent.
Nominations are due to close in nine days time(June 24), ahead of an election on Aug 7, and with Chung this week announcing his desire to return for another term, the stage is set for a showdown that was averted four years ago when Kapi Natto’s bid failed because of the 11th hour withdrawal of support from two associations. This time around, the Southern Highlander, who has been at the forefront of soccer development, especially in the National Soccer League, claims to have 12 associations backing his bid: Port Moresby, NCD Public Servants Soccer Association, Lae Football Association, Lahi (Lae), Madang, Manus, Bougainville, Mendi (SHP), Wabag (Enga), Tabubil (Western), Kiunga (Western) and Koupa (Central).
The 53-year-old is no stranger to success having taken his club to eight consecutive NSL titles (2006-2013) and winning the Oceania Football Confederation’s regional club championship, the O-League, in 2010 and qualifying for the FIFA Club World Cup the same year – a first by a Pacific Island team.
Kapi Natto, who spoke to ABC’s Pacific Beat radio programme earlier this week, said in spite of the unprecedented success of the Kapuls at the OFC Nations Cup, the headlines and euphoria hid a tale of neglect that stretched all the way from the national team to the lowest levels of the game.
“The main problem that’s going on is that the national team is not being supported properly by the PNGFA,” Kapi Natto said.
“There is no funding and this was one of the reasons the trip to Korea (for a friendly before the Nations Cup) was called off.
“If we can’t fund our own national team then I think something is definitely gone wrong and the presidents of the associations are not blind and they are hearing those things and they are asking, ‘We are the biggest member in Oceania and how can we not fund our own national team.
“The reality in PNG soccer is that things are not working well.
“The reason behind the Kapuls’ success isn’t because of the PNGFA but what the clubs in the National Soccer League have done to develop players – it is because of their time, energy and resources.
“The success of the national men’s side is based on the NSL not the PNGFA.
“The NSL has built and developed the players over the years.
“The PNGFA is not doing enough for the grassroots soccer – the biggest concern is at the association level. Aside from Port Moresby and Lae, the rest of the associations are suffering.
“There is no support in terms of equipment, courses, development, and visitation; there is a big vacuum between the PNGFA and the associations.”
He said the PNGFA needed to look seriously at the associations  around the country in order to build a base for the country’s future national representatives.
Kapi Natto said he felt the time was right for change in leadership.
“I think because I have the majority support from the associations in the country, probably about 85 per cent, all behind me.
“I believe that if  I get in the momentum will rise.”