By PATRICIA KEAMO
THE National Schools Rugby League (NSRL) received a huge boost yesterday when Kumul Petroleum Holdings Limited (KPHL) announced a sponsorship of K6 million for the next three years.
The partnership will see the Papua New Guinea Rugby Football League (PNGRFL) continue to make inroads among schools across the country, developing boys and girls between Under-6 and U18.
KPHL managing director Wapu Sonk said the company – now the naming rights sponsor of the NSRL – was proud to invest in the development of young rugby league players.
“(We are) proud to be associated with PNGRFL in committing K6 million — K2 million every season — to develop the programme,” he said.
“Once the programme is developed and running, other sponsors can come in and partner us to expand the initiative.
“The programme, to which is first time that we are committing, is to support the development of boys and girls. Over the last seven years or so, we have been involved in rugby league at different levels.
“We have realised that we need to actually go further down into the schools in order to bring younger talents through an organised system which will hopefully be developed by PNGRFL.”
Sonk said KPHL had approved the proposal submitted to them by PNGRFL as well as the objective behind the programme.
“The objective is to pick out talents at an earlier age, mould and direct them onto the right path to achieve the bigger dream,” he said.
“That is to develop those talents to be better players, better citizens and hopefully one day play in the (Australian) National Rugby League (NRL).”
PNGRFL chairman Sandis Tsaka thanked KPHL, saying that the partnership would set the foundation for the sport’s growth across the country.
“For so long, we’ve focused on our elite pathways into the Kumuls, Orchids, SP Hunters and Digicel Cup, and very little support going down to the grassroots game,” Tsaka said.
“While we’ve had support at the top level, we haven’t had this kind of significant investment to support the grassroots development of the game into pathway programmes. The support by KPHL will ensure that PNGRFL continues to invest in elite pathways.
“The key component of that is the schools programme, (which) is targeted in two groups.
“Tier one is between Under-6 and U12 which involves tag and touch only.
“But above that is where the actual rugby league nursery starts, that’s the competition format for the U14s, U16s and U18s.”
He said the schools competitions would be administered under the new governance and management frameworks which would be established in each province.
By PATRICIA KEAMO