Fans must behave in Games spirit

Editorial, Normal

The National, Tuesday June 23rd, 2015

 Port Moresby’s 800,000 denizens will carry the Papua New Guinea flag over the course of the Pacific Games which starts in 11 days time.

They will form the bulk of fans who attend the Games competitions and how they behave and respond to the experience will hinge on the several factors.

Firstly, the number of police and defence force personnel deployed for the July 4-18 Games is befitting an event of this magnitude. 

Security forces numbering more than 2500 are expected to feature at all the major venues including the Taurama Aquatic Centre, the Sir John Guise Stadium, the Sir Hubert Murray Stadium and at the Games Village.

Secondly, organisers and those charged with security, will enforce the no betel nut chewing, no alcohol and even no smoking rule across all venues. 

This is a must because just about every second person is a chewer. 

The rule will not only ensure a clean and presentable group of venues to the international visitors but save these guests from the unsightly aspect of the buai culture.

Thirdly, the prohibition of dangerous and deadly weapons is a welcomed and expected move by the police force. 

Police Commissioner Gari Baki said that one of the security measures put in place for the Games would be devises to detect and confiscate any implement deemed a dangerous or deadly weapon.

Baki even went as far warning anyone foolish enough to take weapons into Games venues that they faced the prospect of being arrested.

The onus is really on the fans to show the world that they can welcome their fellow Pacific Islanders and support in a responsible manner.

If the Hunters-Magpies Queensland Cup fixture at the Sir John Guise Stadium earlier in the month is anything to go by than one can expected that the people will rise to the occasion and make the Games experience a memorable on for all concerned.

That match attracted a full house of 15,000 fans who would have gone to see the Hunters play and to help organisers test the venue and its services.

The Games organisers who worked in tandem with the PNGRFL to run the match that night were pleased with the outcome, not just the result of the game but what happened afterwards and how fans behaved.

Far too often the portrayal of fans as mobs prone to violence, littered with trouble makers whose sole existence seems to be causing disruption and spoiling the games for the majority.

Rugby league matches in the Highlands have already been affected by badly behaved fans. 

An incident two weeks ago in a Digicel Cup match highlighted the volatile nature of crowds at sporting events.

In a Digicel Cup match between the Enga Mioks and the Simbu Lions in Kundiawa, fans pelted Mioks players with stones and an assortment of other missiles. Several players were hit and some were seriously injured. 

In the National Soccer League grand final at the Sir Ignatius Kilage Stadium in Lae earlier this year, some Madang fans complained of their players being intimidated by Lae Dwellers supporters with stones also being thrown at players.

There is no doubt that fan violence and misbehaviour takes place at every major sporting event in one form or another.

The question is will those same elements be present at the Pacific Games and if they are will security be able to adequately respond without affecting the Games for the majority of fans.   

Thankfully that will not be the case here. 

It was not the case in 1991 and 24 years on it will not be the case, because there is a lot riding on the 2015 Pacific Games and with the biggest investment in state funding and the involvement of several thousand Papua New Guinean’s including the athletes – are all focused on achieving the highest honour and performing well on home turf.

The Games will be remembered for all the right reasons and the athletes that come here will be treated to a warm reception as only PNG fans can give.

Of course there will be the parochialism shown by them as is expected because after all this country has some of the most passionate and one-eyed fans in sport but the Pacific Games transcends all that and what really stands out is the striving for perfection.

Hopefully that perfection is attained not just on the track or field but in the stands as well.