By BURI GABI
REMOTE villagers from provinces that came for the 4th PNG Games have learnt a lot and will now work on areas to improve and better prepare for the 2012 PNG Games in Kokopo, East New Britain province.
It was an exposure for athletes from Southern Highlands, Enga, Sandaun, East Sepik, Madang, Atonomous Region of Bougainville, Milne Bay, Oro, New Ireland and Central provinces to mention a few.
For most of the athletes from outside Port Moresby, it was their very first time to travel to the capital.
They said sports had presented them the opportunity to mingle around with fellow athletes from other provinces, at the games and learn each other’s culture and establish lasting friendship as they return home.
But what they had learnt on and off the playing fields over the past 10 days will always remain in their hearts.
Jimmy Peter, the team manager for the New Ireland body building squad, in an interview with The National, revealed that it was their first time to compete in the sport.
For his 12 body builders (three women and nine young high school boys), their participation in the games was to give them exposure at the national level, and to prepare them for the 2012 games and, hopefully, the 2015 Pacific Games in Port Moresby.
Peter added that he wanted to groom the young athletes by letting them rub shoulders with elite athletes from the other 19 provinces and in the course learn from each other.
Similar sentiments were raised by Team Madang’s hockey team manager Joe Arua, who is originally from Central province but choose Madang as his home after getting married to a woman from the province.
He told The National that the Madang hockey team consisted of the village boys and girls from Kusan village in the North Coast Road of Madang.
Madang are known for their soccer, but it is rare to see their village youths playing hockey in their remote village.
Arua said it was great to play against elite players of Port Moresby, Morobe and the hockey playing province of Manus.
“It is in this event that we have learnt a lot and will be asking the corporate houses back in the province to help promote the sport of hockey throughout Madang if we want to be next champions in hockey,” Arua added.
He said the concept of PNG Games was to promote the young and upcoming athletes from the grassroots level.
But, it was evident that some of the biggest centres in PNG had engaged their international representative athletes in almost all the sporting codes.
This now has put to question what is the real reason behind the PNG Games?
He said remote rural centres were following the PNG Games charter but bigger centres seemed to be ignoring the rules and guidelines of the games.
It is now up to the PNG Games Council to revisit the PNG Games charter and make amendments on the eligibility of players to compete at the grassroots sports level.