By Jeremy Mogi – EM TV Sports, Port Moresby
The candidates vying for the position of President of the PNG Football Association have both stated that the growth of the sport in the country is of paramount importance.
Incumbent President, David Chung, believes that Papua New Guinea has reached a level where key international partnerships will provide opportunities for more growth, whilst for challenger John Kapi Natto, management of resources is part and parcel of growth and improvement.
Chung and Kapi Natto have stated independently that they would like to see Papua New Guinea football grow.
After the successes internationally with the senior men’s team reaching the final of the OFC Nations Cup against perennial champions New Zealand, the women’s team qualifying for the final Olympic playoffs, and the PNG U15 women’s team also reaching the Oceania finals, the strategies for forward planning have shifted away from previous years.
For Chung, his focus has been on getting Papua New Guinea football features on the international stage.
Plans for various youth competitions as well as a women’s national soccer league competition alongside the men’s are two things he hopes to achieve within the next year, once the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup has been completed.
His rival’s focus, however, has been more domestic.
Kapi Natto feels that the various member associations have been isolated from the mother body for too long, and that the focus should begin with equipping the various provinces with the capability to manage their affairs well, building from the ground up the quality that is required, before Papua New Guinea can begin to look abroad.
Chung however has one legacy that was previously thought to be impossible; the hosting of a major international tournament such as November’s World Cup.
16 Nations from across the five confederations of FIFA’s structure will converge on the nation’s capital bringing with them unprecedented television coverage that so far only New Zealand and Australia have been able to attain in the region.
Kapi Natto has a more long term approach, development of self-sustaining management systems for the country’s smaller associations, and expanding these programs throughout the nation.
Creating pathways for Papua New Guinean teams to then be able to travel to such events as a World Cup.
Both men hold the key belief that Papua New Guinea has more to offer and that individually they can lead the sport in that direction.