Since late last year Judith Kumasi has been at the forefront of change in Papua New Guinea football.

The 42-year-old is the first woman to be appointed as President of the Wewak Football Association, which has resulted in Wewak going from associate member status with the PNGFA to a full member for the first time in its 25-year history.

It hasn’t been an easy ride for Kumasi, but her goals for Wewak are clear.

Proving to her male counterparts that she was up for the job required hard work and dedication.

“I made it my business to seek counsel from my interim executives to find out what requirements we needed to meet, to create a pathway for our association to benefit from the primary football body in our country, which is PNG Football Association,” she said.

“After meeting all the necessary requirements that PNGFA requires for eligibility to become an associate member, I was confident enough to invite PNGFA to come to Wewak and they made the assessment themselves.”

Following the accomplishment of getting Wewak full membership, Kumasi has been appointed President for a four-year term through to 2026.

“I earned the trust and respect from the interim executive members and the financial members during the interim phase, so when the opportunity came to have confirmation and recognition now to PNG Football Association, I was again elected unopposed.

“It’s an honour to be recognised as the first female President for a football association in Wewak and the first female football association President in the entire East Sepik Province, and I am one of only three female football association Presidents in Papua New Guinea.”

Gender equity has always been important to Kumasi.

“It’s all based on the willingness to stand up and stand out among the crowd, the persistence and drive to keep at it and keep moving forward, regardless of all the shortfalls that hit you along the way.

“It is important to women to find the drive, find the passion to lead and leave a legacy and if there are women out there in PNG that feel they can make a difference in leadership in regards to football, by all means, please raise your hands and take the seat.”

OFC Social Responsibility manager Michael Armstrong is thrilled with Kumasi’s career advancement.

“OFC is on a mission to ensure that all women and girls have an equal opportunity in our sport. The representation of women in football leadership is integral to the making football in our region as inclusive and diverse as possible,” Armstrong said.

“While organisations are taking strides to address inequality and drive change, it often takes the grit and determination of remarkable individuals like Judith.

“In the face of the significant inequalities in our region, Judith Kumasi is an inspiration for what she has achieved in her role as President. I hope she can inspire others into similar positions to further develop our game and leave a legacy for everyone in football.”

Kumasi, who is a solo mother as well as a copra and cocoa farmer, wants her leadership to inspire change for all women in PNG.

“I’d like as many women to take pride in themselves, see me as a role model and play with pride, play and remember, we too can break barriers, even with male dominance, we too can make a difference, we too can show value in our participation.”