By PATRICIA KEAMO
THE Papua New Guinea Football Association has made vaccination mandatory for National Soccer League players and officials as it aims to resume the country’s premier football competition after a lengthy hiatus.
Put on hold in late September due to the month-long nationwide Coronavirus measures from Sept 30, the league is yet receive approval from the Office of the National Pandemic Response Controller to resume its season.
The association met with representatives of all 14 clubs and PNG Sports Foundation pandemic management committee chairman Dr Kapua Kapua last week.
Association general secretary Pius Letenge told The National yesterday that the recommendation came from the National Control Center’s Niupela Pasin team.
Dr Kapua spoke to the club representatives,” he said.
“The advice he got from the centre is that in order for the league to resume, players and officials are to get vaccinated.
“The centre has advised the foundation, association and clubs to consider vaccination.
“Clubs have until Wednesday (tomorrow) to submit their vaccination statistics to the competitions director (Roosje Suwae).
“The director will then compile the data and write to the Office of National Pandemic Response Controller to seek approval for resumption.
“So far, Lae City and Gulf Komara have their entire squads vaccinated while other clubs are yet to submit their statistics.
“Port Moresby Strikers only had some of their players vaccinated.”
Letenge said most of the club representatives pointed out that majority of their players refused to get the jab but they still wanted to resume the season.
“We can’t resume the season if players are not vaccinated because there’s still an increased rate of Covid-19 infections,” he said.
“If all clubs are vaccinated, it would be easier for us to get approval from the controller for resumption — similar to what the PNG National Rugby League Competition did for the Digicel Cup season. “We discussed the option of having players take the rapid diagnostic or polymerase chain reaction test for Covid-19 prior to matches.
“But it would be costly for clubs, so we decided against it.
“We want to complete the season and not cancel it because there are only five rounds before the finals.
“So the onus is on team managements to strongly advise their players that vaccination is the only option for resumption.”
By PATRICIA KEAMO