By HENRY MORABANG
THE 2017 sporting year promises to be a big one for Papua New Guinea, with the new-look SP Hunters into their fourth Q-Cup season and three Rugby League World Cup matches scheduled in Port Moresby.
Sports Minister Justin Tkatchenko made the comment while briefing the media on the outlook for sports in 2017 at a press conference at the PNG Football Stadium on Monday.
The National Government and the National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop have supported the Rugby League World Cup bid with K5 million each.
“The National Government and NCD Commission are sponsoring the World Cup games to be played in Port Moresby,” Tkatchenko said of the three matches against the USA, Ireland and Wales.
“It is going to be a big year for sports with many big competitions, with the Hunters and the Rugby League World Cup set for this year,” he said.
Tkatchenko said for the first time in its history, PNG would co-host the World Cup with Australia and New Zealand.
The event is slated to kick off on Oct 28 and end on Dec 2.
Tkatchenko said the State and City Hall would make some official announcements with newly-appointed PNGRFL chief executive Reatau Rau and the executive of the Rugby League World Cup on Feb 1.
It is during this meeting, Tkatchenko said, he would be announcing the platinum sponsor for the World Cup and the other programmes leading towards the five-week event.
He said the country had successfully hosted the FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup last November and he was looking forward to doing the same for the country’s number one sport come October and November.
Tkatchenko thanked Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and Parkop for coming on board to support the bid to stage three rugby league World Cup games in the nation’s capital. He urged Papua New Guineans to embrace the event to support it with sellout crowds expected for all three games.
The Kumuls open their campaign on Oct 28 against Wales, face Ireland on Nov 5 and round off the pool stage with a match against the US on Nov 12. All matches are expected to be staged at the National Football Stadium.
By HENRY MORABANG