Oceania Football Confederation > News > Papua New Guinea > U-20s go back to school

U-20s go back to school

But this group is different.
These 22 young girls make up the squad that is set to represent Papua New Guinea on the world stage at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in November.
The girls are attending Goroka Grammar School, a private school near their camp at the National Sports Institute and while for some it is a continuation of their schooling, for others it is a second chance at an education.
Among them is Marie Kaipu, the goal scorer in the senior women’s final at the Pacific Games in 2015, who while comfortable on the football field, is still finding her feet in the classroom.
“I stopped going to school for personal reasons,” Kaipu says.
“But education is vital to me because I need some knowledge to understand the world better. I want to develop better skills, therefore I need good literature, knowledge to help me understand well.
“I believe going back to school will boost my morale in sports and offer a better future for me after my sports career.”
Papua New Guinea U-20 women’s coach Lisa Cole says the opportunity being offered to these girls is priceless.
“It is an important message to send to young players in the country that education plays an important role in sports,” Cole says.
“Only 1 per cent of players go on to make a living in professional sports so it is important that we not only prepare them to be successful on the field, but we need to prepare them for success off the field as well.
“Sport teaches so many important life skills; team work, dedication, perseverance, responsibility, time management, and the list goes on. I think sport and education work hand in hand to help develop young people to be successful adults.
“To take one seriously and not the other is a complete missed opportunity.”
For Kaipu, attending Goroka Grammar School is something she absolutely wants to make the most of.
“When I have a better education I can take my career to the next level,” she says.
“This is to set a new standard for our young nation. With that understanding I can help my fellow friends to develop their talents in life.
“Education leads to success, and it is a privilege to me that football is offering the opportunity to go back to school,” Kaipu explains.
Cole says the potential for some of these players to capture attention for their football ability on the field is high, and that could present further opportunities offshore.
A lot of those opportunities will be linked to education which is why this project is of such great importance.
“I believe that if players can excel on the field and do well in school that opportunities outside the country may come up for them to take their game and studies to the next level,” Cole says.
“I would hate for them to miss out on these opportunities because we took them out of school for the World Cup. Plus, players who are educated have the skills necessary to be good with the public and press.”
She says it will be good for their football development too.
“They tend to get tactical concepts quicker, they adjust and are able to solve problems in the game. It’s not easy to do both but I think it’s important that we make it work.”
The FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup is being held in Papua New Guinea in November 2016, with Papua New Guinea and New Zealand both representing Oceania at the tournament.
School supplies for the 22 girls were donated by Pacific Construction.

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