Bien-Aime lauds PNG experience

Sonia Bien-Aime (centre), Chairwoman of the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup Organising Committee has been impressed by PNG as tournament host. Image: FIFA via Getty Images

Chairwoman of the Organising Committee for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Sonia Bien-Aime has praised Papua New Guinea for its hospitality and organisation of the latest edition of the event, which is set to conclude on Saturday evening.

“I have been to many FIFA tournaments before and I must admit I was blown away, I was surprised, at the way the people have been getting behind the Papua New Guinea team,” Bien-Aime said at the tournament’s closing press conference.

“From a sports point-of-view I didn’t know what to expect here. So often when your team is eliminated, people stop coming. But you came out in even greater numbers.”

Just like the teams that have experienced the warm hospitality of the nation, the President of Turks and Caicos Islands Football Association and FIFA Council Member said she’s enjoyed learning more about the culture and people of the host nation.

“Here they are such friendly and warm people,” she said.

“I would like to say that we couldn’t have chosen a more ideal locaion. Papua New Guinea has been a great host.”

Bien-Aime said bringing the tournament to Papua New Guinea shores was an inspired idea which the Local Organising Committee, its partners, stakeholders and FIFA helped to make a great success.

“I think bringing it here was a brilliant idea,” she said.

“From an opportunity stand point, the girls who participated could showcase their skills. The volunteers are now employable based on the training received.

“We have seen good football, experienced strong emotions, and enjoyed many campaigns around and off the pitch encouraging girls to break barriers.”

What is now important is what comes next for the game in Papua New Guinea.

“This tournament has paved the way for the growth of women’s football in this country,” Bien-Aime said.

“If this team we have invested so much into, and we saw how they grew with every performance, if they can keep these girls together and encourage them to continue, Papua New Guinea could have a brilliant team in the future.

“We have to support FIFA and the LOC with the legacy – the growth and actually spreading the word of what the legacy is about.”

The final of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup will take place on Saturday 3 December at National Football Stadium in Port Moresby between Korea DPR and France.

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