THE Australian government has given a massive A$4 million (K10 million) to effectively carry out junior rugby league programmes in schools throughout PNG.
The funding comes after an agreement was signed between Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare and his Australian counterpart Kevin Rudd last year.
The package will be used over four-year period to develop junior rugby league in the country.
International Rugby League development manager Tas Baitieri, representatives from AusAID and Australia Sports Commission Anthony McGee and Martin Roberts respectively, visited Goroka and Rabaul last week to look at facilities and gauge the views of the local league administrators in the centres.
The primary focus will be on junior development programmes, upgrading skills of referees and league administrators in PNG and extending the competition to rural areas.
First of all, to gauge views on how the programme will be better rolled out.
The visiting party had so far identified some of the basic areas that needed to be worked on to see the standards of rugby league raised at the junior level to better prepare future rugby league players.
Baitieri said the A$4 million for junior rugby league programmes would be used for the purpose intended to ensure taxpayers’ monies “go to where the mouth is”.
The trio was in East New Britain for a week where they visited the Kalabond rugby league ground and Goroka rugby league oval.
They noted it was fitting to host annual Prime Minister’s 13 matches outside of Port Moresby but PNG lacked proper infrastructure to host international matches.
Baitieri said it would also give the opportunity for the rural population in outer centres to see their rugby league idols from Australia and PNG.