Touch makes its mark in Papua New Guinea

Nov. 16, 2023 @ 0:00 UTC

Recently, the ADF Touch Association embarked on a remarkable tour of Papua New Guinea, featuring exciting matches and valuable coaching sessions. Additionally, the association wholeheartedly supported Touch stalwart Diane Vetu on her inspiring path to becoming a referee.

Members of the women's ADF Touch Football team engaged in a friendly exhibition match against the women's Papua New Guinea team in September, marking their "Touch down in PNG" – a unique and enriching experience, as shared by Defence[i].

The ADF Touch Association left an indelible mark in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (PNG), as they stepped onto the field for representative games that pitted the ADF against the PNG national men's and women's open teams. 

Six captivating matches unfolded between September 22 and 24, yielding a mixture of victories and defeats on both sides, ultimately culminating in an overall draw – a commendable feat for the ADF, given the high rankings of the PNG national men's and women's teams in the recent Touch World Cup.

As part of their tour, ADF touch football generously extended the opportunity for the locals to attain internationally recognised coaching and refereeing qualifications. They also partook in practical skills workshops and a school clinic that saw the enthusiastic participation of over 200 local children. This hands-on training was further solidified through the highly competitive international matches that unfolded between the ADF and PNG national men's and women's open teams.

The newfound expertise of the coaches and referees trained during this tour will soon find application on the international stage. They will accompany the national teams to represent PNG at the Pacific Games scheduled for November. One such participant, Diane Vetu, expressed her deep gratitude at being chosen to represent PNG in this training program. She noted, "I am so lucky to have been able to be selected for this course; without it, I wouldn't be qualified to do the Pacific Games."

Honesty and fairness were two of the most profound lessons Diane absorbed during the course. She reflected on the significance of these qualities, remarking, "Being patient, along with honesty and fairness creates a safe environment that allows any sport to thrive. As a referee or coach, we are key to making this happen." Additionally, she learned valuable skills, such as "how to do a switch with the referee on the field, plus how to control the play in the middle."

For Diane, touch football holds a special place in her life's journey. She shared, "I started playing in 1986 when I was just 12 years old, so it's part of me; I still love the code. I love the people I meet and being on the field. It's the best feeling." 

Despite her longstanding association with touch, this tour marked her first foray into officiating, and she couldn't be prouder of her new role as a referee. Reflecting on the experience, she commented, "I have never had a whistle; I have never been the referee; I'm breaking ground today."

“This course is a privilege, and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to participate. This means I can help grow the sport further in PNG.”