The National, Wednesday March 12th, 2014
By WENDY KATUSELE
FOUR major sports are hunting for venues as facilities are upgraded for next year’s Pacific Games in Port Moresby.
With the concentration on making the venues ready for what organisers hope will be the best ever Games, sporting bodies in the capital city are the hardest hit.
Netball, softball, rugby union and soccer will feel an even tighter pinch next month when work starts at refurbishing the Bisini Parade complex.
The works will affect the Port Moresby Rugby League, Rita Flynn courts, Bisini softball, soccer grounds and rugby union’s Monier Park.
The four sports will be forced to scramble for the few alternative venues; with the fear being clashes of competition days could hamper them all.
Already rugby league at the Lloyd Robson Oval, basketball and athletics, which were housed at the Sir John Guise Stadium, weight lifting, bodybuilding, and power lifting, which used the Taurama Leisure Centre, have been affected.
Several international tournaments scheduled for this year in Port Moresby may be affected, with most of the facilities not due to open until early May next year.
That includes the Oceania Volleyball championships pencilled for October.
Many sporting bodies have been denied use of venues at Murray Barracks and the University of Papua New Guinea ovals – two alternative venues.
For Port Moresby netball, work on the Rita Flynn courts next month is a major concern for the largest competition in the country.
The search for an alternative venue is made harder because of safety concerns for players, officials and fans.
“The safety of our players is a great concern, forcing us to look at venues more central, especially when our sport is a women’s sport,” Eva Kini, president of the Port Moresby Netball Association, said.
Kini said the problem could lead to even more drastic measures like cutting on the size of the competition, forcing clubs to field a limited number of teams.
POMNA runs the biggest netball competition in the country with over 800 members, including seniors and juniors.
With use of Murray Barracks out, the association is looking at securing the Ted Diro Primary School grounds but even there safety remains a concern.
“It will depend on finding a venue to accommodate our senior and junior competitions,” Kini said.
An executive meeting will be held on Saturday at the Rita Flynn courts to find a solution.
Kini said any delay to the competition if a venue was not secured before the end of the month would be setback to preparations for the national championships in Kimbe in September.
“My nightmare is to have a competition, find a venue, and ensure the safety of my players.”
Clubs have been urged to attend the annual general meeting scheduled for March 22 at the Rita Flynn courts from 1pm.