Pandemic could destroy game: Tsaka

Sports

PAPUA New Guinea Rugby Football League (PNGRFL) chairman Sandis Tsaka has warned that if the coronavirus pandemic continues, it could “destroy” the country’s No.1 sport.
“If the pandemic continues unabated and its risks to the game are not properly managed, it will be the single biggest threat to the positive gains PNGRFL and rugby league have made in the last six years,” Tsaka told The National.
“It has the potential to destroy our game not only on the football front but in terms of management and sponsorship as well.
“Our revenue sources function when our leagues, Digicel Cup and the SP Hunters are in operation.
“Therefore, there’s also an uncertainty in the Digicel Cup.
“It will have dire consequences on the operations of the PNGRFL across all its six-tier programmes as commercial revenue sources and corporate sponsorships will be greatly impacted.
“The greater social and economic impact of the suspension of PNGRFL’s programmes on our communities, players, staff and the businesses and employees connected to the game are also of great concern to us all.”
However, Tsaka said PNGRFL was in discussions with its key partners to find a way forward to safeguard the finances of the sport amid the suspension of all sanctioned competitions and programmes.
“PNGRFL is greatly encouraged by the continued commitment and support shown by all our partners and stakeholders to work together and we acknowledge their unity with the rugby league family during these difficult times,” he said.
“We are confident that together, we will overcome this adversity. We’ve had discussions with naming-rights sponsors South Pacific Brewery (Hunters), PNG LNG (Kumuls), Oil Search (Orchids), Digicel and Coca-Cola, and they support the concepts that we’ve put forward.”
Tsaka said while waiting on more feedback from the sponsors, PNGRFL would continue to monitor the situation in consultation with the relevant authorities and their key partners.
“We will make appropriate decisions in the greater interest of the game and the health and welfare of all our stakeholders,” he said.
“To our rugby league family across PNG, please heed the advice provided by our public health professionals and follow the appropriate medical protocols to safeguard and protect yourself, your family and community.”
Tsaka said there was uncertainty around when the situation would improve and that it was in the best interest of the game that they prepared for the worst.

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