In Goroka to affiliate with the Highlands Regional Championships, John Makanda was firm in his stance that Mt Hagen would be able to improve on last years outing after making it to the semi finals, with both men’s and women’s squads in training already for the BESTA Cup.
With a change in approach for the association over the years, Makanda has said that the focus for Hagen was on youth development, with training and competition programs created for the seniors and reaching downwards to the junior and even under six level.
Whilst the higher powers of PNG football are focused on the top echelon of the game, the highlands region has been largely untouched. But for associations like Mt Hagen Central, their main aim is to be a part of the fraternity that is PNGFA, without being left behind.
Players like PNG defender and NSL top scorer Koriak Upaiga as well as Madang FC midfielder Samuel Kini being from the Highlands, is a factnot lost on Makanda, who was quick to point out that while the Highlands may be the least developed of the football regions, there is hope. With good youth development strategies it won’t be long before Papua New Guinea has another representative from the region
For now however, the BESTA Cup is the first test that has to be overcome, and once that occurs, the strength and quality of football in the Highlands can be gauged.