PNG women’s U20 football striker Ramona Padio believes that giving back to her country is the best gift that she can give, when the opportunity is provided.
The young woman from West New Britain province is one of a handful of experienced campaigners internationally for the country, and hopes that the World Cup will provide a chance for the profile of women’s football to grow in Papua New Guinea.
Her interest in the sport grew in the small island town of Kimbe, where she spent a lot of time as a young girl idolising some of PNG’s former international players such as the Muta sisters, Barbara and Ester, as well as her own mother.
From her experiences, the 18-year-old has quickly risen through the playing ranks, and found herself playing in her first Pacific Games last year.
The gold medal around her neck after PNG’s 1-0 win over New Caledonia is a moment she cherishes very much.
Her current mentor Lisa Cole has been a focussed task master, knowing the difficulty in the road ahead, leading to November’s final. But Padio has only respect for her coach.
Cole herself is hopeful that the current crop of players she has will be able to perform better than they currently are in the future.
Padio is currently used as a sole target striker under Cole’s playing structure, a versatile format that encompasses PNG’s style, and Padio is hoping to do her country proud on the world stage.