A key part of the ALL IN: OFC Women’s Football Strategy 2027 launched last year was to establish a Women’s Development Officer in every OFC Member Association. With that goal now achieved, we sit down to learn a little more about each of the women driving the growth of women’s football in our region.
Former national women’s team player Margaret Aka represented Papua New Guinea across 14 years before starting her journey in coaching. A trailblazer as the country’s first female OFC B Licence accredited coach, she’s now PNG’s WDO. Get to know more about Margaret below.
Who is Margaret Aka?
I am from the village Guhi in PNG and I come from a family of five siblings – three brothers and one sister. My late parents raised me on the values of selflessness, kindness and respect. I am a passionate person who puts effort into everything I do.
Tell us how you became PNG’s WDO?
In 2013 I was volunteering as a Grassroots and Youth coach and was appointed Just Play Project Manager the following year. I was always heavily involved in women’s football and was a part of developing plans and activities while I was coaching teams. In 2016 we didn’t have a WDO and I was offered the role and have been in it ever since.
Help us understand what women’s football is like in your country?
It’s rare to see a female coach educator in PNG, it’s more common to see males hold these positions. I’m also the first female in my country to hold an OFC B Licence and it can challenging to be in a room full of men when conducting coaching courses. I was also the first female to coach a team in our men’s National Soccer League which puts things into perspective.
What’s something unique about PNG?
The most unique thing about my country is that we have more than 800 different languages and over 1000 tribes, making it challenging to communicate. Although the common spoken language is pidgin, it can be difficult to decipher words from different regions.
What are you hoping to bring to women’s development in your country?
As a player I never thought I would be involved in this area of football. Being in this position is rewarding as I’m able to help girls and women realise their full potential in this country. There are many things that can be achieved through women’s football development, but my main focus is showcasing the positive impact women can have on the game. Women’s football is more than just a sport, it shapes lives for the better.