It is almost commonplace in every country to see a Sports Minister, but rarely would you expect to see a Minister for rugby league – but this is what has happened in the Papua New Guinean Government, as the country seeks to rectify ongoing tussles to do with the sport itself.
It was left up to Sports Minister Justin Tkatchenko, who made the decision to appoint a Minister, with the Minister choosing one of his own vice-ministers in Labi Amaiu, in the newly appointed role of the Minister for rugby league.
This was confirmed at the presentation of the Kumuls sponsor last Friday, with the game against the Prime Minister’s XIII fast approaching, on September 23.
â€œWhat better person to provide direction for where we want to take rugby league from the state it is at currently,â€ Tkatchenko said of his deputy.
â€œVice-Minister Amaiu comes with years of experience and association with the sport, especially at the helm of the premier competition in the country.
â€œWe want to go about putting a good team in place for the future growth of the game and the minster will be directly responsible.â€
The task will not be easy for Amaiu, however, given the bad blood that has existed among some figures in rugby league in the country – but Amaiu thanked the sponsors for showing their gratitude, as he works to resurrect PNGRFL development programs, as well as open up regional offices for the game.
â€œI hope this money will be put into good use, I thank the minister for the trust and pledge my full support in our drive to guide rugby league through,â€ Amaiu said.
Ivan Ravu, who is the PNGRFL Administrator, knows that the ongoing conflict is a direct result of in-fighting at the organisation, but says that any immediate work to fix rugby league in the country, may have to wait till after the PM XIII’s game.
â€œRight now the PMs XIII event is the priority, and there is a lot of work to be done,â€ Ravu said.
â€œWe will need the help of volunteers, people and groups who must work together to enable us to host this game.
Itâ€™s a big event on the PNG rugby league calendar so we want to put all efforts into making this event a success, and then we can go about properly setting our house in order for before the Rugby League World Cup 2013.â€