Prime Minister Hon. James Marape expressed his gratitude to the visiting Cook Islands and Fiji rugby league teams for their presence in Papua New Guinea and their participation in the Pacific Championship rugby league tournament in Port Moresby, emphasising the significance of the Pacific “family.”
The Prime Minister extended his appreciation to the visiting teams during a warm and culturally-enriched dinner he hosted in Port Moresby on Sunday, October 22, 2023. The event was graced by the presence of PNG’s own men’s and women’s rugby league teams.
Furthermore, the gathering served as a farewell event for the Cook Islands’ men’s and women’s teams, who had spent two memorable weeks in Port Moresby participating in the tournament. The Fijian teams, on the other hand, are here to stay and will compete against PNG in the upcoming weekend.
Prime Minister Marape took the opportunity to emphasise the potential collaboration between PNG and the Pacific Islands, asserting that if PNG succeeds in securing its bid for the 18th Australia NRL team, Pacific players will be an integral part of the team, based out of PNG.
In his address to the Cook Islands’ young and appreciative rugby league players and officials, Prime Minister Marape conveyed his gratitude, saying, “I want to say thank you very much for being with us over the last two weeks.”
He encouraged the Cook Islanders to carry with them not only the cherished memories from PNG but, more importantly, the valuable contacts they’ve established here.
“As Cook Islands leave, we thank you, on behalf of the entire 800 plus tribes of Papua New Guinea, including the Motu-Koita people on whose land we stay today,” Prime Minister Marape added.
The Prime Minister emphasised the sense of unity among Pacific nations, stating, “We regard the visiting teams as ‘family,’ and all of us are part of one Pacific.”
He stressed the long-lasting friendships and contacts forged during the tournament, expressing optimism for a brighter future in the Pacific region. To the young players, he offered words of encouragement, highlighting their promising future in rugby league.
“Most of you are young, in your 20s, and have miles ahead of you,” Prime Minister Marape remarked.
“The contacts that you make today are the ones you will keep forever. We appreciate that you have spent two weeks with us. Take the memories of Papua New Guinea with you as you return home, and consider visiting us again in the future.”
Prime Minister Marape’s words embraced the spirit of camaraderie and shared purpose among Pacific nations, celebrating the success of the Pacific Championship Bowl and the promising future that lies ahead for rugby league and sports in the region.