For Lisa Cole, the head coach of PNG’s U20 women’s national team, the opportunity to be at the helm of a young nation on the world stage is one that she has not taken for granted.
In Goroka, after returning from Port Moresby, Cole is looking at turning some of PNG’s best young players into future of stars of the game.
Cole had been heavily criticised after back-to-back losses in matches against the United States and Japan, and conceding a massive goal difference. The losses were disappointing for a woman who has worked at the top tier of American women’s football.
She has admitted that the role of being in charge of the lowest ranked nation in November’s World Cup will be a challenge, but one that she has embraced wholeheartedly. Perhaps most importantly though, she has the respect of her players.
Nicolett Ageva, a young Bougainvillean player has said that Cole has taught her a lot. And another player who has learned signifiant new skills under Cole is Pacific Games Women’s Gold Medallist, Yvonne Gabon.
Gabon is the leader of the young group, and as captain has the experience of the Pacific Games to back her up, alongside striker Ramona Padio. Both will be hoping to be part of Lisa Cole’s core structure.
Cole however had one important point to stress; that Papua New Guinea, despite being minnows, will have the spotlight firmly on them during the World Cup.
The plan for the national team will revolve around the group working together, and Cole along with her coaching staff are preparing as best they can for the moment for PNG’s national anthem is heard by millions around the world.