The Papua New Guinea Football Association will attempt to relaunch the unsuccessful Conference Competition in September this year, according to a new plan put forward by NSL Competition Manager Dimirit Mileng. The plan also suggests that the 2020 Women’s National Soccer League will be starting imminently, while local competitions will take place from March to September.
The governing body had tried to expand the domestic league system at the end of last year, following an unprecedented 2019 season which saw 27 teams take part at the top level of domestic competition. However, the Conference Competition, which would have operated as a step below the National Soccer League across the four regions of the country, was cancelled in late 2019 due to lack of interest.
Since John Kapi Natto’s election to President of the PNGFA in October 2018, he has overseen a season and a half of domestic football. While the cancellation of the Conference Competition at the end of last year was a disappointment, it is credit to Kapi Natto and his team that they are willing to try again to put a second-tier of football in place underneath the current top division. Expansion and stability of the domestic league in Papua New Guinea is something we have been pushing for here at OFCe for a while.
The current NSL season will run until May. In May, Expressions of Interest (EOIs) will be required from clubs wishing to compete in the Conference Competition, while June will be the deadline for NSL clubs wishing to partake. The Conference Competition will begin in September, with the NSL following swiftly in October. It is expected to be a semi-professional league.
In the women’s game, the 2020 season of the women’s NSL is due to start imminently. According to the official document circulated, the competition should have kicked off in February; it’s likely the beginning of the inaugural women’s semi-professional domestic division in the country is imminent. For the 2020/21 season, the women’s season is expected to follow the same timeline as the men’s NSL, with EOIs due in June and the league kicking off in October.
On the amateur side of things, local association competitions will start this month and continue until September, while the National Club Championship, which was won last year by Mungkas, will have regional qualifiers in June and the finals in September. There is also a National Youth Tournament scheduled for July, which should be an excellent opportunity for some young talent to impress the big clubs watching on.