Sharks forge PNG ties


THE 2016 NRL premiership winning club Cronulla Sharks have signed a sporting and diplomatic partnership with Papua New Guinea.
According ABC news, a memorandum of understanding was signed in Sydney on Friday between the Cronulla Sharks and the Sydney Wantok Association establishing a new relationship known as Sharks Wantok.
Cronulla Sharks interim chief executive Paul Eriksson and head of strategy and growth Jonathan Prosser signed the agreement with PNG’s consul-general to Australia, Sumasy Singin and Sydney Wantok president Steven Gagau as ambassadors for Sharks Wantok.
Prosser said the new agreement would ensure Cronulla’s involvement and participation in PNG and the Pacific and will benefit both parties in terms of rugby league and other development projects.
He said the agreement was a first of its kind in professional sport as NRL clubs did not normally have diplomats supporting their relations and club development projects.
“We see the (Sharks) Wantok as the leading community group for Melanesians, Papua New Guineans in Australia,” Prosser said.
“So we are offering their members a number of things and this really lines up with the three core parts of our organisation.
“The first is of course our rugby football club.
“A special tailored membership for the Sharks Wantok which will be launched subsequently which we believe will allow growth in membership and engagement both on the Wantok side and the Sharks side.
“We also see that at a time when 50 per cent of our players are of Pacific heritage and obviously 60 per cent of the NRL will be by 2020, the future of our code very much sits on the shoulders of these men and women of these Pacific nations.
“So it is critical at this time to make sure that we’re engaging in the right way to make sure there is a proper degree of cultural understanding in our club and in our communities.
“This is about NRL clubs and players using their wonderful engagement that comes with their brand and organisations to help those in communities.
“For example, a group of former NRL players just returned from tracking Kokoda (Track) but not only did they do the trekking and do the community engagement along the way but they delivered social impact programmes including installations to bring electricity to a number of communities for the first time.”
Given the news of the Brisbane Broncos scheduled to travel to Port Moresby to play a trial match against Queensland Cup premiers PNG Hunters at the National Football Stadium early in the New Year, Prosser believes that there is also an opportunity for the Sharks to do so too.
“Absolutely, that is something we wouldn’t rule out.”