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Support for women’s rugby league in PNG

Updated: Apr 27


Women’s rugby league in PNG will receive a major boost from the Australian Government, through PacificAus Sports, and Queensland Rugby League (QRL) which will partner to deliver a four-year $9.7 million investment to support high-performance Rugby League in Papua New Guinea.


The support continues the major partnerships with Papua New Guinea Rugby Football League (PNGRFL) and PNG Hunters, to bring Australia and PNG even closer together through a shared love of rugby league.


Australia’s support will see the establishment of a national women’s competition in PNG and support a women’s talent identification program. The partnership will also build the capacity and credentials of PNG Rugby League coaches, support staff and administrators, benefitting both the women’s and men’s game.


Speaking at the launch, Australian High Commissioner John Feakes said, "Australia is committed to promoting greater inclusion of women and girls in sport and is pleased to support female athletes through this program. As we celebrate International Women’s Day it is important to underline that investing in women and girls, including through sport, is central to accelerating progress in all areas of society”.


"Women’s rugby league in PNG has come a long way in a few short years. PNG Orchids’ debut performance in the 2017 World Cup and PNG now establishing a women’s national competition shows that barriers to gender equality are being broken down. I am excited to see where the game goes in PNG, there is so much untapped potential in this country.” he added.


This partnership will continue its support to the PNG Hunters team in the Queensland Cup and will also see the continuation of high-performance pathways in PNG.


QRL Chief Executive officer Ben Ikin said; “It's a privilege to partner with the Australian Government, PNGRFL and the PNG Hunters to help support the growth of rugby league in PNG. The QRL prides itself on being an experienced and responsible steward of the game in Queensland and we’re happy to share our knowledge and expertise with trusted partners.”


In thanking Australia for its support, PNGRFL CEO Stanley Hondina said “The PNGRFL and the PNG Hunters are grateful for this partnership with the Australian Government and the QRL. The last two years have started the phase for long term improvement in the game in PNG. Our female game is in its initial professional competition stage, and we are looking forward to getting it off the ground for the for first time’’.


‘’We appreciate the people-to-people links that connect our two countries as well as the support from the Australian Government and the QRL in launching this new initiative,” he added.


Speaking of the benefits for female and male players Belinda Gwasamun said “Through the support of this partnership, I have been privileged enough to be able to travel and play in Australia and at a World Cup, as well as have a more dedicated consistency to my high-performance training. I am excited to see more female athletes playing rugby league and to have more opportunities and exposure through the support of our own domestic national competition. This is the way forward for the Orchids to be more competitive at the international level.”


“The honor of being able to wear the PNG Orchids badge, comes with a lot of responsibility, to make sure that we are also able to positively influence other young women not just in our sport but as people in our community.” she ended.

Background

Support for rugby league high performance pathways in PNG.

Since 2020, the Queensland Rugby League (QRL) – in close partnership with the Papua New Guinea Rugby Football League (PNGRFL) – has taken high performance rugby league to the next level. This culminated in the Orchids' and Kumuls' impressive performance at the 2023 Pacific Championships. Complimenting this work saw the PNG Hunters joining the partnership in 2022.


About PacificAus Sports

PacificAus Sports is an Australian Government sports diplomacy initiative developing pathways for Pacific teams and athletes to compete in elite competitions and access high performance coaching in Australia and internationally.


The high-performance outcomes of PacificAus Sports are complemented by the Australian Government’s Team Up program, which focuses on sport for development in the Pacific.

For more information about PacificAus Sports and its initiatives, visit www.pacificaussports.gov.au and follow PacificAus Sports on Facebook.




Photo Credit: Fox Sports

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