State’s right to rugby


SPORTS Minister Justin Tkatchenko justified his involvement with Papua New Guinea rugby union, saying the State had invested time and resources in the sport and did not need to be dictated to by the code’s world governing body.
He made the comments yesterday to clarify his position in relation to a letter from World Rugby’s head of development and international relations David Carrigy last month, which reaffirmed their recognition of Ben Frame as the president of the PNGRFU.
Tkatchenko, who publicly backing Steven Kami as interim president of the sport last month, felt compelled to respond to World Rugby.
“I have written to World Rugby in reference to its letter dated Dec 20, 2016, in relation to my involvement in the latest developments in the PNGRFU,” Tkatchenko said in a statement.
“Considering the amount of support that the National Government, through my ministry, has assisted PNG Rugby Union through funding, logistics and infrastructure over the last four years, I find the letter insulting.”
Tkatchenko, who previously endorsed PNG Sports Foundation chief executive Peter Tsiamalili Jr in his bid for the PNGRFU presidency, pointed to the state’s continuous support of rugby as one of the main reason why he was within his rights to facilitate change and help push the sport in the direction he felt was most beneficial for it.
“The Government continues to be the primary stakeholder in sports development in PNG given the socio-economic status of our country,” he said.
“Unlike other countries, 70 per cent of sports is captured in rural areas and corporate support is minimal, hence the Government’s involvement.
“The letter is an insult to our Government’s efforts in assisting grow World Rugby’s game in our country.”
Tkatchenko said that the letter to him should not have been distributed to the media and had showed a lack of respect by Frame for his position.
“This letter to me as a minister of state, was distributed to the media by Frame, and highlights the lack of respect that he has for my office and questions the motives of such a letter.”
He said as part of the Government’s commitment to give sports an opportunity to reach greater heights, they had to remain a major stakeholder to ensure that the interests of sportsmen and women were safeguarded.
“A greater reason why the Government must remain the greater stakeholder is the lack of sufficient resource and funding for sports over the years, which eventually results in the lack of progress or further development in sporting codes,” the sports minister said.
“To use rugby union as an example, we understand that a higher rank for PNG will ultimately mean greater funding sufficient to fund its programmes.
“To achieve that high ranking, the onus is on PNG to do all it can locally to be able to compete on the world stage, and that is why Government must remain a major stakeholder.
“Furthermore, poor administration and management of sporting codes in the country has been of grave concern, that we must make it our business to ensure proper mechanisms and foundations are set, and performance results mirror this, and that we are assured that the game and the players are in good hands.”
He said the state’s assistance to rugby since 2012 totalled more than K900,000 through sports enhancement programme to junior rugby development programme, local teams/clubs, national and international tournaments while the development of the Bava Park Stadium had cost the state K16 million.

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