Game time

12,000 ath­letes set for PNG Games

Paradise - - Contents -

The Pa­pua New Guinea Games – a sport­ing fes­ti­val that em­braces the coun­try’s 22 prov­inces and in­volves 28 sports – is fi­nally due to get un­der way in Novem­ber after two false starts. The bi­en­nial event was set down for Novem­ber last year but stepped aside for the pres­ti­gious FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Then the new date, in March this year, was aban­doned after weather fore­casts of extended pe­ri­ods of rain.

As Par­adise went to press, the sev­enth PNG Games were all set to go ahead in Kimbe in West New Bri­tain Prov­ince, from Novem­ber 18 to De­cem­ber 1.

More than PGK35 mil­lion has been spent on bring­ing in­fra­struc­ture and sport­ing fa­cil­i­ties up to date with five new mini are­nas, in­clud­ing an all-weather track that will host the track and field events.

Its legacy will be transforming Kimbe into the sport­ing hub for the PNG is­lands.

The games, orig­i­nally known as the Grass­roots Games, pro­vide a plat­form for PNG’s raw tal­ent to shine. It was at the first games, in 2003, where a bare­foot young girl called Toea Wisil emerged as a ris­ing star. Wisil has gone on to

rep­re­sent PNG at Olympic level in the 100, 200 and 400-me­tre races as well as car­ry­ing the na­tional flag in the open­ing cer­e­mony at the 2012 Lon­don Olympics.

A lot of eyes will be on weightlifter Morea Baru who fin­ished sixth in the 62-kilo­gram division at the Rio Games. His per­for­mance at Kimbe will be a gauge of his prospect for the Com­mon­wealth Games on the Gold Coast, Queens­land, next year.

An­other highly promis­ing ath­lete is 20-year-old boxer Tha­dius Katua who faced up against a tough Rus­sian in Rio, and although he didn’t win there were many in the au­di­ence who felt he de­served to.

He al­ready has a Com­mon­wealth Games youth gold medal to his credit and his Aus­tralian coach, Al­lan Ni­col­son, is pre­dict­ing big things for his young charge.

Among the team sports on show will be Aus­tralian Rules, rugby league and rugby union, bas­ket­ball and net­ball.The AFL code is on the way up in PNG, un­der­lined when the Mos­qui­toes’ na­tional team won the 18-team in­ter­na­tional se­ries in a nail-biter against Ire­land at the MCG in Mel­bourne, Aus­tralia, in 2014.

With an es­ti­mated 12,000 ath­letes and of­fi­cials ar­riv­ing in Kimbe, the school cal­en­dar has been ar­ranged to al­low the vis­i­tors to use the schools as ac­com­mo­da­tion.

A lot of eyes will be on weightlifter Morea Baru who fin­ished sixth at the Rio Games. An­other highly promis­ing ath­lete is 20-year-old boxer Tha­dius Katua.

Play ball … Aus­tralian Rules player Jef­frey Hardy Vo­gae (left) and rugby’s Michael Bauba Vi­tolo will be among the thou­sands of Pa­pua New Guinean ath­letes com­pet­ing at the PNG Games.

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