While the winless effort by the Kumuls at the World Cup in England grabbed all the media attention for the wrong reasons…it led to talented teenager Wellington Albert attracting a National Rugby League (NRL) contract with the Penrith Panthers and the demise of coach Adrian Lam (pictured).
With Team Kumul coaching staff on lucrative contracts, jointly funded by corporate sponsors and partially covered by the public purse that local PNG coaches and even National Rugby League (NRL) coaches to an extent dream about, someone was certainly going to get the axe to regain the people’s confidence.
But the real winners this year are the committed local leagues who continue to pay up their affiliations to the national body, in the hope they will get some much-needed administrative, coaching and refereeing programmes as returns.
After nearly five to six years of turmoil, the intervention by the ‘action’ Moresby South MP and Minister for Sport Justin Tkatchenko has allowed the sport to brush off those cob-webs especially in the lost and forgotten rural leagues.
All they want is to ensure that the pathway is opened again to give hope to a host of rugby league mad hopefuls that don’t get a look in at the Digicel Cup level.
Now they will have that opportunity in the national zone championships and the likely return of the national club championship component as well, confirmed by newly appointed PNGRFL chairman Sandis Tsaka (pictured right) recently.
Tsaka passionately spoke about reigniting the ‘grass-roots’ with development officers.
“We don’t have people on the ground to run these programmes and flying in and out of personnel is not sustainable,” he said.
“Starting in 2014 we will put people in the provinces to run the programmes together with the schools to ensure we maintain that pathway for young players like Wellington Albert can be discovered,” Tsaka added.
The new chairman also spoke about cleaning up the game to bring back the notion that rugby league is a family oriented sport that can be enjoyed by all and also regaining the trust and confidence of the corporate community, who at one stage had a long list of backers.
There are so many reasons you could throw at each about curtailing violence in all areas of the sport, one would have to be the engagement of younger fitter and sharper whistle blowers.
Currently the senior and aging referees, some with heavily strapped knees give the impression that no-one else wants to take up the job.
The Digicel Cup management are guilty to some extent for not doing their part to by continuously appointing these “aging referees” to control their games.
While Tsaka and his board have given priority ‘red’ to getting rid of all forms of violence in the game, it would pay to revamp the referee’s structure, ensure there are strict criteria’s set.
So that players will not get away with a lot of unprofessional play and players, coaches and supporters do not have to come up with that normal assumption that ‘referee em one-side’ idea whenever their team is behind on the scoreboard.
Tsaka and his board have certainly got their work cut out to raise that sunken ship in 2014. The national