Mammoth task in 2011

Main Stories, Sports

The National – Monday, January 3, 2011


IT’S only three days into 2011 but already the workload for the new year is sure to have all codes and athletes anticipating another exciting 12 months.

The two lead sporting bodies in the country, the PNG Sports Foundation and the non-governmental organisation, the PNG Sports Federation and Olympic Committee, have a mammoth task on hand in terms of securing funds for sports development and programmes.

The government funded, Sports Foundation (PNGSF), has an enormous task in delivering programmes if there are any, and also secure funds for two major events – the 2011 Arafura Games in Darwin and the preparation for the 2015 Pacific Games in Port Moresby.

Recently, PNGSF chief executive officer Iamo Launa expressed concerns about the apparent lack of funding from the national government for the foundation after PNG won the bid to host the 2015 Pacific Games 15 months ago.

But Launa’s calls for an early start may fall victim to the PNG mentality of “last-minute rush work”.

Apart from Arafura Games and 2015, PNGSF would also have to secure funds for the 2011 PNG Games to be hosted in East New Britain.

APC-PNG chairman Thomas Kahai has his work cut out for him in gathering all the information needed to send the elite and development squads and also the gold medal winners of 2009 PNG Games to the Arafura Games.

The PNGSFOC has a similar challenge. 

Currently going through a transitional period with the change of guard in the office of the secretary general – Sir John Dawanincura to Auvita Rapilla – the federation will have to double up.

PNGSFOC will have to undertake major fundraising drives to raise sufficient money for Team PNG to the Pacific Games in Noumea, New Caledonia, and also for junior representatives to the Commonwealth Youth Games in India.

The so-called number one sport in the country, rugby league, has failed PNG by performing poorly during the Four Nations, but on a brighter note the All-School rugby league programme has been hailed a success despite little in-put from  the troubled PNGRFL administration.

Conducted by PNGNRL Bid Committee, headed by Beverly Broughton, the programme will go into its second phase in the coming months.

In the ‘other’ code, rugby union had its fair share of success with the abbreviated form taking centre stage. 

PNG sevens may not have scaled the highest heights but their impressive string of performances starting with the Pacific Sevens in Tahiti, the Darwin “Hottest” sevens and the Delhi Games sevens, all of which took place in the second half of 2010, injected a breath of fresh air in an otherwise quiet year. 

These tournaments showed that PNGRFU has a golden opportunity to take sevens closer to the summit with a top 12 ranking the goal for coach Shane Howarth and his charges in 2011. 

In soccer, PNGFA described Hekari United FC’s participation at the FIFA Club World Cup as the highlight on their calendar but domestically, they still need to get their houses in order.

Unfortunately, major football centers in Port Moresby, Lae and Lahi remained defiant of the PNGFA and refused to return to the fold and this continues to hinder development.

The women’s largest sports in the country, netball, is set to fly with the election of new executives headed by former international player, Julian Maliaki-Leka.

Netball is embarking on few major events which include the Pacific series to be staged in Port Moresby in June later this year. 

This is an annual event and doubles as the regional qualifiers for the World Games in June while the Oceania Netball Federation will s stage its AGM in Port Moresby in 2011.

The PNGNF will send two netballers to play in the Singapore Netball competition. 

Discussions are currently underway with Singapore netball on terms and condition of two players. 

Maliaki-Leka said apart from that the PNGNF will be embarking on development across the board. 

The PNGNF will draw up a 2011-2015 strategic plan, which will focus on players and technical development pathway programmes and create database project and improve the marketing and sponsorship of netball in the country.

With the advent of expatriates running the code, Cricket has benefited greatly with Bill Leane taking over as Cricket PNG CEO. 

Leane’s result-oriented style has brought forth many gains for cricket so far in his short tenure. With Leane at the helm Cricket PNG has litterally changed  for the once-dry field at Colts and Amini Park in Port Moresby.

Coupled with ICC’s corporate plan for expansion of the code, PNG is in the box seat in the Oceania region leading its neighbours Japan, Vanuatu and Fiji.

Like cricket, AFL, is another sports which has big plans for its affiliates. 

They have created development programmes primarily targeting the future AFL stars of the country – the juniors.

With their successful Binatang trips, AFL have created a pathway for their elite players to take up contracts with feeder clubs in Gold Coast and Cairns in particular. 

While several promising juniors have already caught the eye of professional clubs in Australia.

PNG’s win at the recent Oceania Cup in Tonga was testimony of successful junior development program embarked by AFL-PNG.