By ANDREW ALPHONSE
KOMO-Margarima MP Francis Potape has gone to the rescue of the struggling Tari rugby league in the Southern Highlands province.
Potape gave a cheque for K10,000 to Curtain Brothers Tari Sharks team to represent Tari league and participate in the prestigious Coca-Cola Ipatas off-season league challenge that kicks off this weekend.
The team is coached by former Australian, Queensland State of Origin and Brisbane Broncos player Julian O’Neill who now works with Curtain Brothers (PNG) Ltd in Tari.
O’Neill who has spent his own time and resources in coaching the boys, including acquiring full sets of Australian standard NRL Sharks team wear, jerseys and uniforms was overwhelmed when Potape made a surprise visit to make the sponsorship even though there was no formal request made to him.
Potape was driving past the Tari Administration Primary School grounds last Friday when he spotted O’Neill and the boys training.
He walked across to meet them and it was all smiles and applauds among the players when he made the payment to O’Neill.
O’Neill said the money would be used for accommodation, transportation, meals and other expenses for the 22 players and officials during the tournament.
Representing the players, veteran Bobby Mangope thanked Potape for his timely assistance, adding that it was not the first time for the Member to support Tari league.
He said last year, Potape also donated K15,000 to Tari league and said the players, officials and supporters hailed Potape as an up-and-coming Hela leader.
Potape said, though the players and officials named for tournament might not be from his electorate, what mattered was the team would raise the flag of Hela.