Cricketers dumped from Arafura flight

Main Stories, Sports

The National, Friday, May 6, 2011

THE Team NCD cricket XI was off-loaded from an Air Niugini chartered flight for Darwin yesterday which was supposed to cater for all athletes in the contingent.
The reason behind dumping of the cricket team was due to the disorganised preparation by Team NCD management which saw a team official ask CricketPNG Bill Leane for K5,000 at the eleventh hour in order to guarantee the teams travel.
Also the high number of “officials” which accompanied the athletes led to seats being taken up by non-athletes.
According to sources, Air Niugini had put a propsoal in March to Team NCD to fit all athletes on a Boeing767 plane however, the proposal was sat on by NCD until last week when they opted for a smaller Fokker 100 aircraft.
Leane was concerned that despite cricket team, which would represent NCD, having paid all their required fees in advance, the bungling of travel arrangements by NCD team officials had inconvenienced players.
However, PNG Sports Foundation chairman Graham Osborne and chief executive officer Iammo Launa intervened later in the day paying the additional costs of rebooking flights.
Osborne said he was concerned that the cricket team which had met all requirements was suffering because of poor management by Team NCD.
“It’s shameful of NCD,” Osborne said.
“They (cricket team) came to us and we (PNGSF), out of concern, paid the additional costs.
Osborne was critical of the fact that a percentage of the travelling contingent played no useful role at the games and were in fact “along for the ride”.
It was only last week that the National Gaming Control Board had given K150,000 to Team NCD to cover travelling expenses for athletes.
With a contingent of 150 athletes this would work out at K1,000 for every athlete to assist in the paying of levy fees.
Launa said the games were for athletes and as such managers and team organisers had the responsibility of putting the athletes first.
“This is disappointing because the priority should be the athletes,” Launa said.
“The Games are all about the athletes because without them we wouldn’t have games would we?”
Meanwhile, Leane said he was upset that events meant for developing the athletes were being taken advantage by those charged with organising and management.
He added that Cricket PNG had paid part of the cricketers levy fees and fulfilled other requirements only to told at the last minute they would need to pay more.
Team NCD has sent the largest contingent using tax payers money to the bi-annual Arafura Games since participating in 1991 however the returns in terms of medals had been fairly low considering the size of the team sent.
With several members of Team NCD management also having roles in the national team to Noumea, New Caledonia, for the Pacific Games in August concerns have been voiced whether the right people were tasked with important positions.