By HENRY MORABANG
HEKARI United FC have expressed their sincere appreciation to people of Papua New Guinea for the support during the first O-League final against Waitakere United on Saturday in Port Moresby.
Franchise owner John Kapi Natto yesterday said he was still could not come to terms as he was speechless and was so emotional to see biggest soccer crowd back his side beat the New Zealand champions 3-0.
“There was crowd support from all walks of life, from different codes, who come in numbers to support Hekari United. It really reflected national pride in what we are doing in sports,” he said.
Kapi Natto said every sport had their own aspirations and dreams, and so it was with Hekari who hope dto become the first island country to play in the world club championships in Dubai later this year.
“I thanked all those people that rendered their support. I was delighted to rugby union, netballers, softballers, Aussie rules, volleyball and other many sporting personalities at the POMRL stadium supporting Hekari,” he said.
The franchise owner said to achieve something of this magnitude was not easy.
“The team and players must be disciplined and have right attitude towards their aim and objective, then they will achieve the goal,” he said.
“Hekari management and officials have worked very hard to bring the club to where it is now.
“It is a wonderful feeling to be part of the football family, and I always wanted to share with everyone involved in the game.”
Kapi Natto also thanked the foreign players from Solomon Islands and Fiji for giving their hearts for PNG.
“A lot of his Fijian players and officials asked Manuca (Tuimasi), why he opted to play for a PNG team and not a Fijian side. But he stood his ground, packed his bag for PNG to be a part of the new era in O-League.”
Tuimasi had the chance to play for Waitekere through his Fiji club, Ba, but never made it and decided to play for Hekari instead.
He thanked Kapi Natto and Hekari management for bringing him across to be part of the PNG football history.
Meanwhile, the Solomon Islands Football Federation (SIFF) is set to adopt the PNG’s National Soccer League (NSL) concept following their fact-finding mission last weekend in Port Moresby.
Kapi Natto, who is also the chairman of PNG NSL, confirmed that SIFF general secretary Eddie Ngava was in the country to watch the O-League final between Hekari and Waitakere, and also hold talks with him to start the NSL competition in Honiara.
The SIFF’s NSL is likely to begin in October this year to the following March.
Kapi Natto said Ngava was impressed with the administration and structure of the semi-professional competition.
“Solomon Islands has a greater chance of successfully staging an NSL competition because of the sports wide support in the community but it would be expensive because of our geography,” he said.
An excited Kapi Natto said would he also put his hands up to offer help on an advisory role to get a national soccer league competition set up and running in Solomon Islands capital.