Football will return in the Cook Islands next week.
On Wednesday, August 12, Rarotonga will host their popular grassroots programme for 5-12 year olds at the CIFA Complex in Matavera.
Following the grassroots programme, a collection of other competitions from across the country will begin from Thursday to Saturday, including:
- Premier Men
- Senior Women
- U-17 Men
- U-15 Girls
- U-14 Boys
- U-12 Mix
- U-9 Mix
- U-7 Mix
“We have been fortunate enough to not have the COVID-19 virus here in the Cook Islands, which has allowed the government to approve the commencement of our code for 2020,” Cook Islands Football Association Competition Manager Pauline Dean said.
“We are relieved and happy that we are able to hold our annual football competition. It is going to be another epic and interesting football season not only for the players and officials but for the supporters of each club.”
In the national men’s league, all six clubs will play each other three times in a home and away format with one match to be played at the CIFA Complex. Tupapa Maraerenga are the defending champions.
Papua New Guinea
After being indefinitely postponed since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Papua New Guinea’s National Soccer League (NSL) is set to return under strict safety guidelines and restrictions this weekend.
Despite the country remaining in lockdown, the resumption of the competition was given the green light by the State of Emergency (SOE) Controller David Manning. There’s eight rounds remaining.
In a letter sent to the NSL secretariat, Manning clearly outlined the protocols and conditions for the restart.
The SOE Controller stressed that the players, coaches and officials must follow strict coronavirus safety measures as COVID-19 transmission continues to pose a threat in Papua New Guinea.
NSL Chairman Benny Popoitai expressed his delight with the decision and provided assurances that protocols have already been put in place to ensure a safe resumption of the competition.
“The competition will be played behind closed doors without spectators. However, live streaming of the games in Port Moresby will be provided to ensure fans are given the opportunity to watch the games live,” Popoitai said.
NSL Acting Manager Dimirit Mileng said staff, match officials, volunteers and representatives of each club had attended COVID-19 awareness workshops to gain a clear understanding of all the necessary precautionary measures.
“The players must follow all the guidelines like no sharing of water bottles, no handshakes, and no goal celebrations in clusters,” Mileng said.
“Temperature checks will be taken before entry into the grounds and if an individual presents him or herself with a high temperature (greater than 37.5 degrees), entry may be denied.
“Social distancing has to be maintained at the match venue as security officials will be present to enforce the same, therefore everyone involved in the game is advised to take heed of the advice provided.”
Mileng confirmed that entry would not be permitted to those who failed to comply with the guidelines.
American Samoa has delayed the start of their national leagues due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The competitions were due to get underway in July but the new scheduled starting date is September 19.
There will be senior men’s and women’s divisions, plus a youth competition.
In Fiji, the Battle of the Giants tournament was due to commence on Friday.
The competition has been running since 1978 and features the top team in Fiji from each district; eight teams are split into two pools of four and each club will play everyone in their pool during a busy weekend of football.
Next week, the semi-finals and final will take place to crown a winner.
Labasa are the defending champions, while Ba FC is the most successful club in the event’s history with 17 titles, the most recent of which came in 2018.