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Governor Bird commends East Sepik athletes

Updated: Apr 29

The Governor for East Sepik Province (ESP), Honorable Allan Bird, held a Press Conference at Hilton Hotel in Port Moresby on Friday, December 8th, to thank three ESP athletes.

Governor Bird purposely held a welcome reception as a token of appreciation for Emmanuel Anis, Isila Apkup and Magdalene Swaki, for representing ESP and PNG well in the recent XVI Pacific Games in Honiara, Solomon Islands.

Anis and Apkup are runners, while Swaki is a rugby union player. These three promising athletes performed exceptionally well in the 2023 Pacific Games and each won a medal in their respective sport.  

Governor Bird was overwhelmed with joy and sincerely thanked the three Sepik-champions for their achievements. He praised and commended them for being the inspiration to the Sepiks. 

“I am really excited because I think for the first time in many, many decades, East Sepik has produced some athletes and we are very fortunate that they have won some medals, which is good,” he excitedly expressed.

“The most important thing I want to say is that, everyone needs inspiration and us in Sepik, I think one of the things we have been trying to do since I became the Governor is to look for the champions. We actually have a program at home called “Sepik Champions” so we try to look for those who are doing well in the community and we try to support them. 

“The Provincial Government has vigorously been supporting sports since 2018. The result of that are these three young people we see before us here. It has been a long-term commitment. These people are young champions and I am really pleased.” 

With so many crimes happening in East Sepik Province, Governor Bird and his administration are trying their best to address the recurring law-and-order issues by involving the youths in sports and encourage them to make awareness in their respective communities. 

“We have had a lot of negativities surrounding the people of East Sepik. So, five years ago when we were looking for bright lights in East Sepik Province, three of them are now here with me - Anis, Apkup and Swaki,” Bird said.

“We have not been on the sporting scene for decades and there is a lot of negativities surrounding us, so I am very proud of the accomplishments of these three athletes. And I admit that this was an experiment, which I am happy that it paid off.” 

Aditionally, Bird announced funding supports of K100, 000 for athletics and K50, 000 for rugby union in the province for next year, 2024.  

Governor Bird further said that he and his administration hoped to support sports and also create educational opportunities for the athletes to earn a diploma or degree, so that they have something to fall back on after retirement. 

“It is not just sports. If we can get them back to school and earn a degree and have something to fall back, that is what we want to do.”

Meanwhile, Anis and Apkup will leave for the United States to resume their studies and prepare themselves for the upcoming Paris Olympics in 2024. 

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