No return for WNSL finals

Southern Conference 2020/21 winners, FC Genesis with former PNG international Deslyn Siniu. Credit: PNGFA
Southern Conference 2020/21 winners, FC Genesis with former PNG international Deslyn Siniu. Credit: PNGFA

The finals of the Papua New Guinea Women’s National Soccer League have fallen victim to the resurgence of COVID-19 with the Interim Standing Committee announcing their cancellation yesterday.

The Northern and Southern Conference Leagues concluded in early March with four clubs, Poro FC, FC Genesis, Sepik FC and NCD Hekari United FC qualifying for the semi-finals and final originally scheduled for March 20 and 27 respectively.

Originally postponed following an order from the Office of the Controller on March 18, a notice from the Papua New Guinea Sports Foundation Pandemic Management Committee earlier this month forced the Papua New Guinea Football Association to make a tough decision on the future of the premier women’s competition.

PNGFA Competition Director Paul Isorua said although the governing body would love to see the finals of the inaugural competition played, the current pandemic-related environment and other sporting factors had to be taken into account, especially following eight weeks of inactivity.

“Players will have a high risk of sustaining injuries due to insufficient time to train and reach adequate fitness level,” he said.

“We will see loss of momentum to high intensity player performance and team performance, and with the unpredictable status of the COVID-19 pandemic nationwide, we also want to avoid collision with other PNGFA competitions that are due to start.”

Isorua said all factors were considered when making the decision not to reschedule the finals again, but to cancel them altogether.

“We understand this is a deeply disappointing situation for all the players, coaches and technical officials involved, but their welfare and wellbeing remains our top priority when making the decision.”

As a result of then cancellation, no winner will be crowned for the Women’s National Soccer League 2020/21 season.

Southern Conference winners FC Genesis had returned to training this month in anticipation of the semi-final, while the other semi-finalists had also pinned their hopes on a return to football in the near future.

PNGFA is now working with the PNG Sports Foundation to ensure a smooth “Return to Sports’ phase with appropriate COVID-19 protocols in preparation of upcoming football activities, once the suspension of sporting competitions nationwide has been lifted.

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