Equal reward sought


PARENTS of Special Olympics Papua New Guinea athletes are calling for more recognition the following the country’s participation at the World Games last month.
In a bid to boost athletes’ performance to win medals at major international events, the Government introduced cash incentives.
In 2014, weightlifting duo Dika Toua and Steven Kari were promised K100,000 each for winning gold at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.
Again, during the term of former sports minister Justin Tkatchenko, the Government renewed its support on home ground at the 2015 Pacific Games.
The most recent was at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games where current Sports Vice-Minister Sport Wesley Raminai promised incentives.
Last month, parents of children who competed at the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi asked for equal recognition.
At the event, Team Special Olympics PNG (SOPNG) hauled in seven’s medals – two gold, three silver and two bronze.
However, a parent claims there was no media or government official to acknowledge their efforts.
Their frustration was also directed at the media, claiming it did not do enough in terms of awareness.
At the team’s welcome luncheon press conference, only one media organisation attended which further raised the ire of parents.
John Tiki, whose son John Tiki Junior was the goalie of their SOPNG seven-a-side football team, said all athletes must be given equal recognition.
“My concern is that these children made history representing the eight million-plus people of Papua New Guinea,” Tiki said.
“They are not normal like other children.
“They have disabilities but they are citizens of our country who represented PNG at the World Games and came back with gold, silver and bronze. But there were no incentives given.
“If they (Government) can do it for other sports, why can’t it be the same for us?”
Tiki said the amount of attention given towards abled athletes must also be equally distributed so that all sportsmen and women could benefit.
“The media and the Government’s actions are causing division in sports in the country,” Tiki said.
Another parent, Benny Moi, whose daughter, Judy won the country’s first gold medal at the event was critical of the media.
“I think the media failed miserably,” Moi said.
“You can only learn from mistakes.
“The media should have been here from the start.”
He also said that SOPNG should have a person in a permanent media role, as the organisation was growing.

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