The National – Wednesday, February 16, 2011
By HENRY MORABANG
PAPUA New Guinea has an exceptional chance of winning medals in softball and netball at this year’s Pacific Games in Noumea, New Caledonia, however it is a pity both sports have be scrapped from the events programme.
They are non-active sports in the French territory prompting organisers to omit them from the programme.
PNG Softball Federation president Chris Bais and the PNG Netball Federation president Julianne Leka-Maliaki confirmed that both sports would not be sending teams for the regional event which is scheduled for Aug 27 to Sept 10.
Maliaki said it was unfortunate that netball was not omitted from the programme blaming it squarely on the past administration for not nominating the sport.
However, Bais it was a pity that PNG, who were reigning champions in softball in 1991 on home soil, 1995 in Guam and 2007 in Samoa would not be participating at the Pacific Games this year.
Thirty sports have been proposed for this year’s games but 28 will be contested while 12 will be optional sports for member countries from the region.
The sports: athletics, basketball, beach volleyball, canoe/kayak, cricket, football, golf, rugby (touch), swimming, table tennis, volleyball and weightlifting.
The optional sports: archery, badminton, baseball, bodybuilding, boxing, cricket, cycling, (team) handball, judo, karate, power-lifting, sailing, shooting, squash, surfing, taekwondo and triathlon.
Three sports – football (soccer), cricket and tennis – will be using the Pacific Games as an avenue for selection and qualification to international matches.
PNG Football Association president David Chung said the men’s event would be the first stage qualification for the FIFA 2014 World Cup in Brazil which would see the Pacific Games gold, silver and bronze medal winning teams progress to a second stage tournament against New Zealand.
In the women’s event, the Pacific Games gold medal winning team will progress to a second stage playoff with New Zealand for a spot at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
In tennis, the Oceania Tennis Federation will use the Pacific Games as an official selection event for the Pacific Oceania Davis Cup (men) and Federation Cup (women) teams.
The cricket matches will be deemed by the International Cricket Council as “official internationals” which means countries participating have the opportunity to move up into a higher ICC membership category.