Football was first introduced in PNG in 1884 in Finschafen, Morobe Province by the German missionaries of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany. An organized competition was started in the gold fields of Wau/Bulolo by the indigenous gold-miners. This competition was called the Wau Kik, which is often referred to nowadays as Wau/Bulolo, or 1946 Kik, depicting a foul kick or rough play.
Football is now one of the most popular sports in Papua New Guinea.
During the colonial era of the then Territory of Papua and New Guinea, football was played as a social event between the European Administrators and a hand full of locals who were given the opportunity to play. It then spread throughout the country and young local villagers were involved in playing the game, especially in schools.
News reports from the South Pacific Post states that the Port Moresby football association was established in January1962 with the election of senior administrative officers from Australia. Administrator Sir Allan Cleland was the inaugural patron. A central organization, recognized by those who played the game in the four regions of Papua New Guinea, Southern, Highlands, Momase and the New Guinea Islands became necessary to run the affairs of the thriving game.
Later in 1962, the Papua New Guinea Football Association was established with the primary role to unite and coordinate provincial football associations and facilitate participation at a national and international level. In the early days there were no offices and the majority of administrative matters were run in the home and office of past held administrators. With little or no financial support, there was dependence on the contribution of diehard fans, players, administrators and volunteers.
In 1963 Papua New Guinea Football Association moved swiftly to become a member of the global football family by affiliating to FIFA – Federation International de Football Association.
1966 saw the PNGFA become a chief player in the establishment of the Oceania Football Confederation. The organization was formed to coordinate and facilitate football in the Pacific which included Australia and New Zealand. The founding members of OFC were PNG, Fiji, New Zealand and Australia.
The Papua New Guinea Football Association managed to operate from its own office in 1999 through the funding of OFC and FIFA. The first PNGFA office was opened in Lae and managed by a full time paid General Secretary. 1999 was also the year when the PNGFA Constitution was adopted.
A major milestone was the approval by the FIFA Goal Bureau of the first Goal Project in PNG on 29 October 2001.
OFC President Basil Scarsella opened the National Headquarters and Academy on 24 May 2003 with the help of Goal and the Financial Assistance Programme. For the first time in its history, the national association could now hold training and promotional courses for all categories of football under one roof. The sports complex incorporated the offices for Papua New Guinea’s football administration.
In a change to the project approved by the Goal Bureau on 3 December 2006, a second project will see the upgrading of the already constructed national football academy in Lae. A technical centre, the first of its kind in the region, will also be built in Kimbe, West New Britain, to focus on grooming young players through structured development programmes. The association also expects these two centres to provide administrative support. The Goal Bureau approved this project, on 22 October 2008.
Papua New Guinea Football Association (PNGFA) Membership
The membership of Papua New Guinea Football Association changes over the years as associations pay the required affiliation fees before they are admitted to the National Organization. However, the actual number of players in the four regions of Southern, New Guinea Islands, Highlands and the Momase cannot be established accurately due to the lack of the statistics provided by the associations. However it is estimated that over 69,000 registered players play in PNGFA sanctioned tournaments with thousands more in the schools and remote areas.
Football has enjoyed its fair share of historical moments with the two day visit to Papua New Guinea in 1983 by then FIFA President Dr. Joao Havelange. The PNGFA president at that time was Wep Kanawi and the late secretary Andrew Waho were instigators of the visit. Quickly technical assistance was secured from the German government. A German coach named Jochen Figg arrived in 1985 to assist in the development of the game in Papua New Guinea and was based at the National Sports Institute in Goroka.
Financial constraints continued to hinder development of football in Papua New Guinea. However the FIFA annual financial assistance of US$250,000.00 from FIFA from 1999 to 2003, gave Papua New Guinea Football Association the opportunity to fund its development programs. The establishment in 2003 of the Papua New Guinea Football Association Head Quarters and National Academy, in Lae, Morobe Province, became paramount.
Under the current president, Mr. David Chung, who was elected in 2004, Papua New Guinea Football Association has adopted a vision to promote and popularize football as the number one sport throughout the country and develop Papua New Guinea into a leading football nation in the Oceania region.
The executive has developed and continues to introduce various strategies for the coming years which are expected to have a major impact on the game in the country especially at a Grass Roots level.
In 2016 the PNGFA have had one of the biggest years in its history. It played host to the OFC Nations Cup in May/June, during which the national side made it to the final for the first time in the association’s history. They missed out on the title by the slimmest of margins, taking New Zealand all the way to a penalty shootout.
In November the nation will welcome teams representing 16 nations from across the globe as they play host to the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Port Moresby.