By KEITH PUARIA
THE Australian High Commission, through the Australian Sports Outreach Programme (ASOP), has realised the dream of women in Port Moresby, especially the netball fraternity, with the official opening of the women-only gymnasium yesterday at the Rita Flynn Netball Courts in Boroko.
The new facility made possible through a A$10,000 (K25,295) grant from the Australian government, received great accolades at its official opening, by the High Commission and the netball fraternity.
“Sport is an incredibly important part of most peoples lives, and the Australian government is committed to continuing to assist the development of sport in PNG,” Australian High Commissioner Ian Kermish said.
“The gym will become an affordable, accessible and safe place for women to improve their health and fitness or speed their recovery from sporting injuries,” he added.
“Having somewhere for sportspeople and the community to safely exercise is an important part of ensuring that we maximise the number of people participating in sport around the country.”
The ASOP grant to the Port Moresby Netball Association (PoMNA) is intended to help grassroots sports programmes that demonstrate an ability to be inclusive and bring about real change in the communities.
Refurbishments, up-grading and conversion of an existing building at the courts into the new facility, included a new interior, all round building repairs, proper water piping, installation of security measures, and the purchasing of a wide selection of gym equipment.
Kermish congratulated PoMNA for a very well developed project, and looked forward to the successes of the gym in the time ahead.
An emotional PoMNA president Pole Kassman extended the heartfelt gratitude of Port Moresby netball fraternity and the women, to the Australian High Commission.
“We’ve dreamed about this, and it is now here, thank you. This is the home of netball, the home of the national team, the Pepes, the juniors and the bigger part of netball in PNG. This facility will eventually be utilised by all women who will come through here,” Kassman said.
Also present to witness the occasion was the Commissioner’s wife, Roxanne Martens, high commission officers, PNG Netball Federation president Emily Taule, members of the PNG Pepes and members of the general netball community.
The gym is one of two projects that received funding under the ASOP grant. The second grant of A$10,000 was for a five-day advanced netball coaching and umpiring clinic which was conducted last November.