THERE is a major concern with rugby league development in PNG.
Is it really a national game and is it being developed in PNG?
If you say so, what are the indicators?
As a rugby league lover and amateur player, I doubt it is being developed in PNG.
I liken the development of this game to the statement made by Lae MP Bart Philemon regarding the country’s development – “going one step forward and three steps backwards”.
My reasons are as follow:
First and foremost, the attitude of rugby league players is still a major problem.
The non-stop assaults of referees; players and supporters’ violence and field invasions; and the recent politicising of the game with people fighting to hold onto administration power, have brought the game into disrepute.
We must restore strict guidelines and discipline to improve our attitudes.
Secondly, rugby league is now mainly played in one region, the highlands region, as evident in the number of highlanders in the semi-professional bemobile Cup.
Even though we have teams from Port Moresby, Lae and Rabaul, the majority of the players in these teams are from the highlands.
I commend the highlanders for organising their own local competitions in their provinces and districts with support from businessmen and politicians.
This shows how passionate they are.
However, we need to make this game as a national game and not highlands game.
The third reason is that we hardly have any top local players in the NRL and English Super League apart from Makali Aizue.
All our local Kumul players are playing in the overseas bush and feeder club competitions.
However, they are all returning to play in the bemobile Cup.
What are the problems they face?
They must be identified and addressed.
Finally, the league administration and administrators – all they do is collect huge affiliation fees from the rural and urban leagues and forget about them.
Many affiliated rural and urban leagues are being used as curtain raisers and fundraisers for PNGRL administration.
Is this worth their affiliation fees which they struggle to raise and pay?
We need a concrete plan from PNGRL to develop this game in PNG.
Otherwise, it will become another business organisation where only the top shots run the show and benefit while the majority will suffer.
The PNG NRL bid is only a dream and this dream will only be realised if we developed the game properly.
Let’s not waste money on this bid but divert it to develop the game nationwide.