OFC Technical Director Patrick Jacquemet and Asia Pacific Football Academy Director of Football Giovani Fernandes returned with positive impressions following the OFC/PNGFA Regional course held last week.
“It was a good mission. It’s always good when you can work closely with people, especially the PNGFA Technical people.
“We had very good meetings and shared good information with local people. We received lots of support from them,” Jacquemet says.
Jacquemet and Fernandes delivered courses in Port Moresby and Lae and were touched by the enthusiasm of locals.
“The people are amazing. Most don’t have a car or transportation. We held the workshop at the hotel in Port Moresby and participants turned up in truck, bus, car or they hitch-hiked.
“In Papua New Guinea you can hear about the challenges of everyday life, but when you’re on the ground you can feel their motivation to learn and participate,” he says.
Positive impressions always indicate promise and potential but Jacquemet and Fernandes say what happens next is most important from an OFC perspective.
“We are here to support the PNGFA technical staff, to make sure that what we want to implement together will work in the future.
“But the most important aspect will be what will happen in the future after these meetings,” Jacquemet says.
The trial element of the course delivery was set-up to accommodate 30 players for entry into the technical programme – over 100 turned up.
“We can’t bring in everyone who wants to participate which can create some frustration. But I am sure we can get some pleasing results.
“There is a lot of demand from the people. They are keen to be in the courses and workshops and eager to share their ideas with us.
“The children and youth that we have seen tells us that Papua New Guinea has big potential in player development.
“When you start something you need to support and push people. You can see the children and youth are ready,” he says.
But Jacquemet says there are challenges ahead as OFC tries to lift technical standards in the region’s biggest, most populated member association.
“It was a very positive visit but now the difficult part is the implementation. Papua New Guinea has a lot of challenges and it is hard to jump these obstacles and move forward.
“On Saturday morning we planned a trial but when we woke up the weather was terrible. We had 20-30cm of rain overnight so it was difficult to get to the venue by car,” he says.
And Port Moresby and Lae presented their own unique difficulties.
Lae, known as the Garden City and Papua New Guinea’s second largest city, is also the nation’s gateway to the Highlands.
The PNGFA Academy located in Lae is a shining light in terms of what OFC hope to achieve.
“In Lae it’s easier because there is good infrastructure there – offices, pitches, academy. This means we can concentrate on delivering our programme to the children and youth.
“In Port Moresby we had to identify pitches, transport and that is more challenging. But I have a good feeling about Papua New Guinea and the programme in Port Moresby because the people are motivated,” he says.
OFC’s next targets for Papua New Guinea football, according to Jacquemet, are clear.
“What we want to see first are children on the field. We need to improve knowledge of our coaches and ensure they get support from a coach mentor.
“Our target in Port Moresby is to get the programme running in April. In Lae the programme will run from the Academy,” he says.