Papua New Guinea has never been short on playing numbers with a population of more than seven million and approximately 200,000 who play the game. But the country’s developing status and the geographical challenges of its landscape continue to prove an obstacle for football development.
The Papua New Guinea Football Association (PNGFA), established in 1962 and affiliated to FIFA shortly after, is working hard to overcome these challenges. President David Chung and his administration have taken a national approach where previously the focus had been regional and at times fractionalised. The National Soccer League was introduced in 2006 and despite significant logistical challenges has continued to run successfully.
Men’s football competes with the popularity of other codes such as rugby league but for women the number one sport in Papua New Guinea is football. Through continued PNGFA support, the national women’s side has secured a historic three successive titles at the Pacific Games and has gone close to qualifying for the FIFA Women’s World Cup and Olympic Games only to be knocked out by New Zealand at the final hurdle in both competitions. At youth level, Papua New Guinea was nominated to represent Oceania in the women's tournament at the first ever Youth Olympic Games in Singapore in 2010. Another success for PNGFA was the inauguration of the new association headquarters and national football academy in Lae in 2003, allowing activities to be coordinated more successfully.
The men's national team has enjoyed a heightened period of activity on the international stage with the Kapuls facing professional clubs and international sides in Asia in preparatory friendlies as they target the 2016 OFC Nations Cup and 2018 FIFA World Cup™ qualifiers. At the 2015 Pacific Games in Port Moresby, the men's side made it all the way to the semi-finals, before snatching the bronze medal from Fiji in the Third Place Play-off. In the women's game, the Papua New Guinea U-15 Girls' team finished fifth at the Youth Olympic Games Girls' Football tournament in Nanjing, China while the senior side re-established their status in the region as they secured their fourth consecutive Pacific Games gold medal at the 2015 XV Pacific Games.