By CHRISTOPHER PAPIALI
PNG is the richest country in the South Pacific. It has a lot of land space, increasing population with massive economic boom that will transform our small country.
Our richness and wealth creation can be felt if the national government together with its developmental partners stands united to supporting sports development initiatives.
It is right to act now for our betterment than wait for the next 5 years.
Sport can be used as a tool for addressing some of the challenges that arise from humanitarian crises and in conflict and post-conflict settings.
Even the UN emphasizes sports and development in these words: “People in every nation love sport. Its values – fitness, fair play, teamwork, and the pursuit of excellence – are universal. At its best, it brings people together, no matter what”.
For PNG to progress, we sometimes have to take on board the UN chronicled statements as it appeals to everyone from every race and nationality.
Successive governments and policy formulation and directive line service organizations like TPA have yet to see the potential sports can do. TPA need to see it as a tourism potential and a big money earner just like poverty stricken countries like Jamaica are doing.
I am not in any form would like to argue and even touch the failures of organizations because to do so would think that I am raising an issue that should only be raised by authoritative bodies and not a citizen like myself. However, one may look at it I stand to share developmental concepts for the benefit of all people.
My bold view is that our gold, oil and gas can provide a touch base for sporting initiatives and such initiatives should involve state, NGOs, business houses and good overseas friends.
We as a growing nation, a nation full of raw talents, ought to see that sport is becoming increasingly part of humanitarian and development work, as well as a part of the corporative social responsibility practices of some private sector actors. Hence, interested parties are anxious to explore the potential, as well as the limitations, of sport in their work.
Seeing the overall scenarios into which companies have that responsibility to the communities then PNG government cannot operate in isolation but as a matter of urgency link up companies and related entities and draw up a comprehensive plan that each party can benefit.
Undoubtedly, PNG has produced champions since in the early 1960s in their respective sporting fields. Names are many and those staunch supporters and followers of those sports men and women can easily know who they are.
I know of few individuals who hail from Erave area, in the Southern Highlands Province. In the late 1990s, an Assistant District Administrator, Late Aisoli Pale, started the sporting movement in SHP called Souths. He with several key individuals was keen in basketball and soccer. With the assistance of certain individuals and provincial government they were able to send three soccer players down to Australia to play in the Australian State Wide Soccer competitions. These individuals were Heni Kembo, Michael Witu and Umapi Bobola.
The zeal and commitment to push these local talents to travel and play football outside of PNG was such a marvelous achievement in the Highlands region when much of the region was not yet into soccer in the early 1990s. And we would then say, this era was quite unique when people of this country stood united to push PNG to an extra mile through sports and business.
Not only can we sit down and evaluate how far PNG has gone but to also consistently monitor and appraise potential sports men and women if they have already travelled abroad participating in international tournaments.
Those who have exposed themselves at the international competitions have to feed the government and its development partners the massive potential sports can do rather than keeping silent if they feel they have not achieved or done their best and also if they feel they have not been sufficiently funded by the national government.
Year in and year out, we read and hear various individuals and sporting teams looking for sponsorship and the government sometimes is seen as resistive regime that turns away its face to talk to our sports ambassadors. The key factor to this is really to present to stubborn leaders what sports can do and only when these leaders know that then at least there should be some breathing space, some kind of balanced hope among all parties.
What is really lacking is the commitment and understanding on how best we can use the limited funds to build sporting venues. Great stadiums are not built overnight. For the start, fundraising committees are formed and these committees then draw up attainable work plans and cross checking whether or not each point identified is covered or unattainable. The small it may be but by being consistent to those objectives we could build world class stadiums that can accommodate all sports.