The power of football to capture the minds and hearts of the young and the old was evident at a series of school visits by teams participating in the inaugural OFC Women’s Champions League in Port Moresby on Thursday.
Samoan side Kiwi FC and New Caledonia’s AS Academy Féminine were welcomed to the Salvation Army Primary School in Boroko by hundreds of kids aged between 5 and 12 and the reception was extraordinary. The two teams performed songs on arrival and were instantly favourites with the kids who asked numerous questions before the teams took to the stage to sing and dance.
The Q&A session could have gone on all afternoon given the enthusiasm and curiosity of the young students and while there was no room for playing football, the cultural experience will stick in the minds of everyone present.
Hana Malo Vaga from Kiwi FC says it was a special experience. “All of Samoa’s parents love the kids and I have my nephews and nieces and there are many kids here and I want to do anything I can to make them happy,” Vaga said.
At the end of the session players handed out free tickets courtesy of the PNG Football Association for the matches on Thursday and Saturday and the excitement among the children was palpable.
Fijian team Labasa Women FC attended Ororo Primary School in Tokarara and received a similarly overwhelming welcome.
Striker Sofi Diyalowai says visits like this fill her with pride. “It’s exciting to meet up with the kids and this is what football is all about, introducing the game to as many people as possible,” Diyalowai said.
Koloale FC from the Solomon Islands visited Ted Diro Primary in Port Moresby to complete a quite memorable day for the teams and the thousands of school children who met them ahead of match day four tomorrow.