THE Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, has praised the public’s participation at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup tournament that concluded in Port Moresby last Saturday.
He said the citizens of PNG have been the perfect hosts for the football world and outstanding ambassadors for the nation.
“It is not the government that hosts our FIFA World Cup, it is the people of the great Independent State of Papua New Guinea that has hosted this FIFA World Cup and you have all done us proud,” he said.
“The players and officials from around the world have been so impressed with our hospitality, our culture and and our friendship.
“To the players and official of every team, I thank you for coming to Papua New Guinea.
“I thank you for being with our people and the bonds that you have developed with our communities.”
He said last Saturday night’s final between France and Korea DPR was an opportunity for every Papua New Guinean to get behind a team and cheer for them.
“It is like State of Origin, where we decide if we are Maroon or Blue, tonight we are for France or Korea DPR,” he said.
“No matter the outcome I know we will have an outstanding game of football and a winner will be crowned on our soil.”
He praised the PNG team and said they put in a tremendous effort against the superpowers of women’s football.
“To the women from our Papua New Guinea team, on behalf of a proud nation I thank you and I congratulate you for the heroic effort that you put in during your games,” he said.
“Every one of you served our nation with pride and distinction.
“You stood your ground against the best teams in the world and you earned their respect as true warriors in your sport.”
Mr O’Neill said the success of the FIFA World Cup has been an opportunity for PNG to once again showcase the nation to the world.
“Hundreds of millions of people saw our FIFA matches around the world, and they also saw Papua New Guinea as a strong nation,” he said.
“When I was at APEC in Peru the Leaders of other countries were asking about our FIFA tournament because they had seen it on television.
“We can be proud of the organisation that has gone into hosting games and accommodating the players, officials and spectators who have come to watch the FIFA matches.”
He said the nation now looks to the next major events.
“Papua New Guinea hosted a very successful Pacific Games last year, now a FIFA World Cup and next the Rugby League World Cup matches that will be played in Papua New Guinea in 2017,” he said.
“Then in 2018 the eyes of the world will be on us for an entire year when we host APEC and invite the Prime Ministers and Presidents of 20 other countries to Papua New Guinea.”