The National – Friday, July 1, 2011
A COLLECTIVE effort is needed from all stakeholders of the game if rugby league is to become “bigger and better”.
Gulf Isapeas chairman Sarea Soi said as a new franchise in the Digicel Cup they were beginning to realise that there were many problems that have existed in rugby league in PNG and most was related to attitude.
Soi said this ahead of the weekend’s round nine match against fellow newcomers the Hela Wigmen which would be seen as a local derby for the NCD-based teams and he was expecting a fiery encounter.
Dividing his comments into two parts – one focusing on Gulf Isapea’s form in the competition, and hosting games in the city – Soi appealed to a certain section of fans to gain access to games through honest means.
“It has now become common practice for opportunists to gain access to the outer stands by prying open holes in the fence and when you have dishonest security personnel who charged reduced rates to allow these hooligans into the grounds it defeats the purpose of getting the game to be self sustainable,” Soi said.
“It’s even worse when fans who want to get into to the grandstand use all kinds of reasons under the sun to get in free.
“You have people who say ‘I am an official of this club, I am a life member’s wife, I am a patron of that club’.”
A franchise hires the facility from PRL at a certain rate so effectively everybody should be paying unless they are sponsors or the media who are needed to promote the game.
“We’ve got bills to pay and when people don’t make the effort to be honest and pay to see games you wonder whether people are considerate and are concerned that they are not helping the development of the game at all.”
Following every home game teams Isapeas and Stop N Shop Vipers have to pay National Rugby League a gate guarantee of K20,000.
Other franchises are required to pay a lesser K10,000 gate guarantee despite every team enjoying the same privileges provided by PNGNRL.
That becomes very taxing and Isapeas have tried to improve the fans’ experience like providing live entertainment, selling sausages from founding sponsors Prima Smallgoods, and altering the ticket selling system to minimise flaws so that gate revenue is maximised.
In relation to the game, Soi said that the Isapeas were due for a win and would work hard to do it against Wigmen on Sunday.
Fending off critics, Soi said that the franchise had been patient with the team, which comprised many young players who were beginning to find their footing in the semi-professional competition.