FIFA's first female executive leads historic meeting | Pacific Beat

FIFA's first female executive leads historic meeting

FIFA's first female executive leads historic meeting

Updated 21 February 2014, 12:03 AEDT

The acting president of the national women's soccer league in Papua New Guinea has just returned from an historic meeting at FIFA headquarters in Zurich.

Linda Wonuhuli says for the first time a woman sat at the top table following the election of Lydia Nsekera from Burundi.

Ms Wonuhuli says the move is vital for the development of the women's game, at a time when soccer in PNG is struggling financially.

Presenter: Richard Ewart

Speaker: Linda Wonuhali, President of the PNG National Women's Soccer League

WONUHALI: She will be in the top executive of FIFA, so she will be able to seek with a man on women's football and she will definitely sit in on the whole executive committee meetings and she has the voting rights to all football discussions that will be happening at that level.
EWART: So in terms of the growth of women's football around the world. How important do you think it is to have this representation at the highest level of FIFA?
WONUHALI: I would say very important, because I joined FIFA in 2012 and I've sat in the meetings, committee for women's football and women's World Cup, so I've seen the difference when men chairs the meetings, so I think for a womens football around the world, it is very important that a women must be at that executive level.
EWART: Is it a role that you might consider taking on yourself in future years, would you be prepared to stand when the position becomes vacant?
WONUHALI: At the moment, for me I have my own job. I am passionate about helping women in this country and the girls to encourage them to play football. Really, it was a social thing for me and at that level, to be honest, I'm not ready yet.
EWART: Now, I would have thought that whilst you were in Zurich and these historic changes were taking place, you maybe had half a thought to what was going on back home in Papua New Guinea and essentially the sponsorship crisis that the National Women's League is in at the moment. How fearful are you that the League could collapse?
WONUHALI: Actually, I did say something along that line, I did a contribution during the FIFA, the first ever meeting in Zurich, to say that for my country and for the other regions that are small, who are not well off in women's football or are playing women's football at that highest level.
I actually expressed to FIFA that they've got to look for some way of promoting football at the crossroad level, that every girl must learn or must play football.
Yes, I had that right at the back of my mind when I said that, because it is something that when the power is in the hands of men and you are struggling to fight that battle where you have other sports that are being given priority. Example, in PNG, the government fully supports rugby league. They spend or give all the money to rugby league, where my national team, Papua New Guinea Women's National Team, it is sad to see that there is no support coming forward from the financial assistance that we get from FIFA, we have 15 per cent that goes to women and Papua New Guinea Football has put every effort to try to make use of that money to develop women's football, irrespective of we get support from the government or not, that's what we've been doing.
EWART: As well as seeking support from your own government, have you suggested to FIFA or would it be possible for FIFA to help in this case, because we're talking I believe about 50-thousand Kina which is around about 20-thousand Australian dollars, not a huge sum of money that is required to get the league up and running?
WONUHALI: With FIFA, they actually give the same amount of money, whether your country has only 250-thousand people or whether your country as about 20 million people. For us, we make use of what we have, but if we have any special projects, like development of referee or coaching clinics, then we request through FIFA to ask them if they can help us.
In terms of the Womens National Soccer League, like we have to do now. In Oceania, I don't think that we have any womens national soccer league developed yet. 
Womens Football we started last year, just to make sure that there was a way forward for our girls to play at that level, try to give them up more, develop them a little bit further at that level, and so, we will not give up on it, we're not down and out yet, we will definitely not let go of it. We will have to look to some way to continue this League.

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