One of the Pacific’s women’s football strongholds welcomes a new national league this weekend.

Papua New Guinea’s 14-team Women’s National Soccer League will get underway with a host of matches in two locations on Saturday.

The league has eight teams in the Northern Conference: Sepik FC, Pacific Gardens FC, Markham Raings FC, Morobe Tulips FC, Bara FC, Rainy Lae FC, Poro FC and Tusbab Laidamon FC, while there are six in the Southern Conference, including Port Moresby City FC, Port Moresby City Academy, National Capital District Public Servant Soccer Association, Hekari United FC, Genesis FC and Amoana FC.

Papua New Guinea have won five consecutive gold medals at the Pacific Games in women’s football and have an undeniable amount of talent at their disposal.

Among the players to keep an eye on, striker Meagan Gunemba will play for Poro, while fellow internationals Yvonne Gabong, Margaret Joseph and Rayleen Bauelua will line up for FC Genesis. Young midfielder Christy Maneu from Tusbab Laidamon is another to watch out for.

This league has been established with an eye on the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup that will be co-hosted by New Zealand.

Papua New Guinea staged the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in 2016.

Papua New Guinea Football Association General Secretary Pius Letenge said the league was a big opportunity for football to grow in their nation.

“Our aim now for 2020 is to identify talented women and girls in football for development,” he said.

The league will operate with assistance from FIFA Forward funding. FIFA President Gianni Infantino expressed his support for the competition via a video that was played at the league’s official launch last week.

The trophy on display at the launch of the PNG women’s league last week. Photo Credit: PNGFA Media

OFC Women’s Football Development Officer Emma Evans said Papua New Guinea was a country that had made big strides in placing greater emphasis on the women’s game.

“It is exciting to see another Member Association launch a national women’s league, and in their words ‘on the road to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup’,” Evans said.

“The PNG women’s national team have consistently performed well at the Pacific Games, picking up five gold medals in recent years.

“In a country that has nearly nine million people, I cannot wait to see how much potential will be unlocked now that their girls and women will have regular, consistent and competitive matches to play in.”

Saturday’s matches

Northern Conference – to be played at Sir Ignatius Kilage Stadium in Lae

  • Bara FC v Tusbab Laidmon FC
  • Rainy Lae FC v Poro FC
  • Pacific Gardens FC v Morobe Tulips FC
  • Speik FC v Markham Raings FC

Southern Conference – to be played at PNG Football Stadium in Port Moresby

  • NCD FC v Port Moresby City FC
  • Amoana FC v NCD Hekari United FC
  • Port Moresby City Academy v FC Genesis

Meanwhile, the semi-finals for Fiji’s Football Association Cup Tournament (FACT) have been rescheduled for Saturday, December 5.

Poor ground conditions at Subrail Park in Labasa last weekend caused havoc as the match between Nadi and Rewa was suspended at halftime with Nadi leading 1-0.

Their game will resume on Saturday at Subrail Park with the second spell to be played before Suva and Labasa meet in the second semi-final.

The FACT grand final and bronze medal matches are scheduled to be played on Sunday.

In New Caledonia, the final of the Caledonia Futsal Cup between AS Universite and ASPTT will take place on Saturday.

Meanwhile, New Zealand Football announced on Friday that the Women’s Futsal SuperLeague is set to move and expand for the 2021 season.

It was previously scheduled for February but will be pushed back to September-November to mirror the men’s competition as a full series-based double round-robin: Northern and Southern Home Series, Northern and Southern Travel Series, National Series 1 and National Series 2 (which includes semi-finals and a grand final).

Southern United will enter the Women’s Futsal SuperLeague for the first time while an additional Auckland Football Federation squad will take the competition to eight teams, meaning the competition represents every federation for the first time since it started in 2015.

The Northern teams taking part in the 2021 Women’s Futsal SuperLeague series are Northern Lights, Auckland Football Federation x2 and WaiBOP Football Federation. The Southern teams are Central Futsal, Capital Football, Canterbury United Pride and Southern United.