IN an historic move last Friday, the Pacific Rim nations united to form the Pacific Islands Rugby League Federation (PIRLF), an affiliate of the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF).
The PIRLF is a partnership between Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and the Cook Islands.
To date these passionate rugby league-playing nations had acted in isolation of each other in the development of rugby league.
That has now changed.
Through the collaboration of PIRLF, the Pacific nations have strengthened their position.
They would now speak with one voice in the interest of rugby league and will use the game as a tool for social change.
PIRLF will advance development and create opportunities in rugby league for youth in the region and internationally.
PIRLF will focus on U16s and U18s and facilitate educational opportunities including coaching, refereeing and development of administrative and officiating skills.
It is also committed to promoting healthy living of youth in the Pacific Rim region and will be involved in talent identification programmes to provide opportunities to youth to play at elite levels.
PNG Sports Minister and chairman of the PNG NRL Bid Committee Philemon Embel has been appointed chairman of the PIRLF and will represent the interests of PNG during the transition phase of the PNGRFL board.
Embel said he fully supported the newly-appointed PNGRFL board and said: “PNGRFL needs a new face. The new board must be given an opportunity to take over rugby league for the future.
Embel said: “The formation of PIRLF is an historic occasion and I am looking forward to working with my Pacific brothers to drive social change in the region through rugby league.
“In PNG, we are actively progressing the development of infrastructure for the benefit of rugby league.”
The directors of PIRLF said the the body would bring the people of the Pacific together with “one voice and one heart providing a structured path for Pacific Rim youth”.