By GABRIEL LAHOC
THE Coca-Cola Ipatas Cup is set for a grand launching this weekend, as it enters an historic 12th season.
The tournament serves as a pathway for identifying the finest rural and hidden talents to gain rugby league stardom.
This season, the tournament will be under new chairman Wallis Pingin, whose appointment was announced last week.
Major sponsors Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA) marketing trade execution manager Aaron Japu, tournament chief executive officer Timothy Lepa and other senior officials were present during the announcement.
Several business houses have also made their commitment to supporting the tournament.
Pingin, who is also the branch manager for ANZ Bank, Lae, and a rugby league die-hard from Kompiam-Ambum district, Enga province, had replaces Mapai Transport managing director Jacob Luke, who stood down due to work commitment.
Japu pledged the company’s support because of the competition’s credibility of giving rural talents the chance to expose themselves.
He said CCA did not support body-contact sports, but the competition’s association with the grassroots people and the development of young men through this game was one area not to be missed.
Sports Minister Philemon Embel and Enga Governor and Cup patron Peter Ipatas are expected to officiate at the launch.
Lepa said the matches in Lae would kick off on Friday and run for three consecutive days.
“The fact that Coca-Cola Amatil is part of the NRL bid team is a bonus for the Ipatas Cup,” he said.
Clubs that have confirmed their participation for Northern region are Royals, Crushers, Tambuaks, Ramu, Aiyura, Kainantu Bees and Kainantu Titans, while Buimo, Unitech Dragons and Magani have until end of business today to finalise documents to register themselves.