Rugby League is gaining popularity and support in Papua New Guinea, thanks to a collaborative effort between the Australian Defence Force (ADF), the Papua New Guinea Rugby Football League (PNGRFL), the National Rugby League (NRL), and Asia Pacific Rugby League (APRL). As part of an Australian-PNG Partnership initiative, these organizations joined forces to provide education programs and much-needed resources to volunteers in the rugby league community.
The capacity building sessions took place in Port Moresby and Lae, with Port Moresby catering to the Southern and NGI regions, and Lae covering the Northern and Highlands regions. Over 150 participants successfully completed training in various areas such as refereeing, coaching, first-aid, sports training, and MySideline competition management.
The ADF played a crucial role in ensuring the success of these sessions by providing support from some of the best instructors in the game. This included Glen Richardson and Troy Burgess from the NRL, as well as Joe Grima, the coaching and development manager for the NRL PNG Bid Team. Their expertise and guidance helped enhance the skills and knowledge of the participants.
One significant achievement of the sessions was the increased participation of females, particularly in coaching roles. This demonstrates the growing interest and inclusivity of the sport in Papua New Guinea.
PNGRFL CEO Stanley Hondina expressed his gratitude to the Australian Defence Force Sports team for their support in making these essential capacity building activities possible. The ADF, as part of the Pacific Officials Program, has invested significant time and resources not only in rugby league officials but also in officials from other sports such as netball, basketball, and Australian rules.
In addition to covering the transport and accommodation costs of all participants, the ADF also generously gifted much-needed rugby league resources to community clubs in Papua New Guinea. This support will undoubtedly contribute to the further development and growth of rugby league in the country.
At the end of the training programs, representatives from the PNGRFL, NRL, and APRL presented the participants with their well-deserved certificates. This recognition of their efforts and achievements serves as a motivation for them to continue their involvement in rugby league.
Asia Pacific Rugby League COO Jeremy Edwards commended the success of this collaboration, highlighting the positive impact it has made in Papua New Guinea. He expressed his hope for more initiatives like this in the future, as it brings together different organizations for a common goal of advancing rugby league in the region. The partnership between the ADF, PNGRFL, NRL, and APRL represents a remarkable effort in promoting the sport and its values in Papua New Guinea.