PORT MORESBY - It’s time to take stock after the 2017 Rugby League World Cup
The PNG Hunters this year won the Queensland Intrust-Super Cup after being in the competition just four years.
Riding on the back of that success, our national team, the Kumuls, surpassed all previous records and rising above their world ranking of 16 by winning all pool games in front of parochial sell-out crowds at the National Football Stadium in Port Moresby.
Now, with PNG knocked out in the quarter finals, the hard lessons need to be learned. Let this world cup be the beginning of bigger and better things for PNG Rugby League.
PNG rugby league board and management have hinted that they need to put in place a junior program, including a schoolboys program. These must happen without haste in 2018.
Also the time is ripe for other actors to enter the scene.
If there was ever a time to galvanise and mobilise this country of 800 languages and 1000 tribes into a united force for social action and economic participation, this is it!
This game rises above many cultural, ethnic and economic and social barriers. It can motivate an entire generation. It has a power exceeding any other single factor or event.
But the government of PNG and PNGRFL cannot leverage this potential alone.
We need mining companies to come on board. They have been given concessions and failed to declare profits. Enough of that greed. They have squandered enough of our earth passed down through the ages from the blood of our ancestors.
We need the timber companies that are desecrating our forests and undermining the rights of landowners to chip in to a better project.
We need provincial governments to commit as little as K20,000 to junior development programs and a schoolboys league.
The time to promote political ends is over. Give money to where it can make the best impact on the game itself.
We need all the charitable foundations that are trying to do some good in their own way but are really duplicating government responsibilities to come on board, not only with funds but with other resources.
We need the private sector (setting aside for a moment its fear of rascals and other social ills) to jump on board and contribute funds. They can also address law and order problems by employing more young men.
Let's get behind the government in requesting that a certain percentage of the aid dollars be directed towards programs that help to grow the game and groom young athletes to play it.
This country has a special case to make because rugby league is our national sport.
If the game grows and affect many aspects of our society, it may even help towards realising our Vision 2050 goals as well as the goals promoted by the UN.
This would have an unimaginable effect on other aspects of our country.
The Hunters management also needs to undertake a high profile membership drive around the country. Membership of the club is important. I made this suggestion some time ago and I’d like to volunteer to help achieve this.
And finally, let’s set up a trust account and ask our eight million supporters of the game to contribute K1 each to it. I bet we can come close to collecting eight million kina! Then direct these funds into specific aspects of the game like the schoolboys program.
To get started and grow the game further, these are some things that all entities and individuals can contribute.
We need to think outside the box, and do some of this before we arrive at the next world cup.
By the way, for the love of the game, I have decided to watch the game between Australia and England without supporting any one team.
I think we should put aside our disappointment with the final ref call of Tonga's try and see for what it is – it’s a call made by the ref on the field, as he saw it, and we have to move on.