Sport: PNG's rival football body bullish about future

1:07 pm on 19 June 2017

Football Federation PNG President John Kapi Natto believes the National Premier League will only get bigger in the years to come.

Hekari United defeated FC Papaka 4-1 in Saturday's grand final at the PNG Football Stadium in Port Moresby to claim the maiden NPL title.

The domestic competition is run by the breakaway Football Federation PNG, which is not recognised by the PNG Football Association, Oceania Football or FIFA.

12 teams competed in two conferences in the inaugural campaign - double the amount of clubs contesting the rival National Soccer League.

Hekari United players celebrate scoring a goal against Tafea FC.

Hekari United are the inaugural National Premier League champions. Photo: Oceania Football

John Kapi Natto said momentum for the new competition was growing.

"By bringing in very raw talents and players that have never played on this stage in a very public arena but who has the skills and the talent," he said.

"Seeing some of our former players who are coaching those teams in the rural areas who have been written off and and coming to the final and seeing the stadium packed it tells the story of itself.

"That it is a new chapter of football going into the rural and urban areas and seeing the supporters coming out to support the game."

John Kapi Natto said plans to set up two new conferences for the second season of the NPL were already well advanced.

"I've already visited the New Guinea Islands - definitely New Guinea Islands will start in Kokopo," he said.

"We've got Admiralty, who flew all the way from Manus to play in the Southern Conference, has now decided to go back to play in the NGI Conference.

"The Highlands region I'm just waiting for the (PNG national) election to be over and done and then I'm going to take myself over to the Highlands to talk to them to see how they want to start their Premier League in the Highlands so it's all planned out.

"I want to see football touch the four regions of this country and I'm telling the government that this is the structure that all sports must go throughout the country - we cannot marginalise sports only in the cities and the town areas."

Despite talking up the success of the National Premier League, Mr Kapi Natto acknowledged there had been criticism from fans on social media about some of the lopsided scorelines during the inaugural season.

Eventual champions Hekari United thrashed newcomers Nawaeb 11-0 in the semi finals earlier this month and Kapi Natto admitted it was not a great look.

"Because it is the first year of the birth of the National Premier League and I think there can be criticism from every angle," he said.

"...People have got to understand that when you want to start something you don't see all of a sudden results that you would be satisfied with - you've got to get through it and players are coming, it's a new experience, clubs are trying to form and all that.

"In the semi final Hekari beat Nawaeb FC about 11-0. I was a bit disappointed with the result but some of those boys, about seven of them, were brand new boys that had never played on the football pitch that is different from the way they played in the rural areas.

"On social media they've always giving their negative approach but whatever. For me, if this is the direction that it's going to go, I built National Soccer League from nowhere to where it was before and this is the same person who's now jumped onto the new National Premier League.

"If this is the way it's going to go in the next five years this is going to be the biggest league in this country."