Waipo pursues football path

As the daughter of Angoram MP Salio Waipo Esmeralda Waipo has been raised in politics, but the star Wewak striker does not want to follow her father’s political dream; hers is a football dream.

She is one of the 25 players vying for a spot in the final 21 of the Papua New Guinea U-20 women’s team for the upcoming FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup next month in Port Moresby.

As one of the first Angoram women to make it this far in representative football, Waipo hopes to continue at the senior level in the coming years.

“I am very excited about my football dream and I am working very hard to achieve it,” she said.

“I have been working hard on the field, especially on the flanks, to ensure I cover the area well, and ensure I win a spot in the final squad,” she added.

The 18-year-old student from Brandi Secondary School was first identified by the PNGFA scouting team last year. A PNGFA scouting team made visits across the country to uncover talents with the potential to make an impact at international level. At the time, Waipo had to commute from Brandi to Wewak to get even a touch of the ball.

PNGFA identified Waipo when she was playing for Wewak in an U-17 tournament in Madang, where Wewak finished third and Waipo was crowned Player of the Tournament and received the Golden Boot award after scoring five goals.

Since that fateful tournament she has put her studies on hold to train full-time with the U-20 women’s squad at their adopted home at the National Sports Institute in Goroka.

Through the PNG U-20 training camps and tours of South Korea and the United States, Waipo believes she has learnt many new things and hopes to learn more and give her best if the opportunity to play for her country comes her way.

Waipo added that travelling the world was unbelievable but it was all thanks to football.

She hopes to return home to Angoram after the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup to help provide opportunities for the local women to play football but for now, Waipo’s focus is on making the final team.

The FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup will run from 13 November to 3 December in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.