Soccer BY KEVIN TEME The Kumul Petroleum Holdings Ltd National Soccer League inaugural highlands conference began on Sunday at the National Sports Institute in Goroka, Eastern Highlands province. The tournament in the highlands region is certainly going to bring out a lot of raw talents in most of the highlands provinces that have fielded teams in the competition. PNG Football Association president John Kapi Natto said this year the NSL will increase the prize money to K100,000 for the overall winner in the region. He was speaking during the launching of the NSL highlands conference on Sunday. Kapi Natto said K200,000 will be on offer as prize money alone for this year’s NSL season that will see the winner walk away with K100,000 and a ticket to the OFC Champions League in 2020 while the runners-up will settle with K50,000. Kapi Natto also said there will also be consolation prizes for teams who finish in third and fourth spots. Also on offer will be the golden boot award winner and other incentives that will be available at the end of the season. “It’s an exciting time ahead for soccer in PNG. Under my leadership, we want to make football or soccer inclusive to all regions of this beautiful country and it must reach all corners of this country,” Kapi Natto said. In the opening match, Aporro Mai FC from Kutubu thrashed Enga Laima FC 5-0 while the Simbu Angras FC came from behind to level the scores 1-1 against Blues Kumuls FC from Mt Hagen at full time whistle. It was the third game between Mt Hagen FC and Kagua-Erave FC that proved fiery with a couple of yellow and red cards dished out to players on both sides. It was an aggressive match but a highlight of what Highlands teams are expected to offer at this level of football. “There were too many skills and talents on show in all the three games. We are impressed although there is some work to be done in the technical aspects of the game,” said NSL board chairman Benny Popotai. Meanwhile, the National Soccer League New Guinea Islands conference will kick off in Kimbe, West New Britain this weekend. Kapi Natto said he was looking forward to the opening in the region. He is also excited that finally NSL has now taking place in the four regions of this beautiful country.