The Oceania Football Confederation has joined the Papua New Guinea football community in mourning the loss of Catherine Davani.
Seen as a trailblazer for the women of Papua New Guinea, Davani featured in the first ever Papua New Guinea women’s national team in 1988 and helped them to their first Pacific Games title in 2003. In 2016 she was appointed as chairperson of the Women’s National Soccer League.
She was also the first Papua New Guinean woman to become a judge.
OFC and PNGFA President David Chung said Justice Davani’s loss will be keenly felt by the football community both locally and regionally.
“Cathy is considered one of the pioneers for women’s football in our nation and I know a lot of young women were inspired by her sporting exploits,” Chung said.
“Becoming the first Papua New Guinean woman to become a judge also set her apart and showed women that they can aspire to be anything they desire.
“I want to pass my deepest condolences to her family for their loss.”
Davani became a National and Supreme Court judge in 2001.
She had a long involvement in football administration, particularly with the PNG Sports Foundation and was once legal advisor to the PNG Olympic Committee.
Davani recently spoke about how transformative the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, which kicks off in Port Moresby on Sunday, could be.
“People have heard of FIFA and it’s a real achievement for us to win the right to host,” she said.
“In terms of what it will do for our womenfolk – it will do a lot. Our country is a small island community and we live a very traditional life in our villages.”
She also saw the event as something that could help encourage sustained interest in the development of women’s football.
“We lost a great former player whose passion for football was inherent until the day she passed away. Her contribution to PNG football will always be cherished,” Chung said.
“We wish she could have witnessed this World Cup and been with us during this exciting time for PNG football. She was a great mentor to many women in this country.”