Prime Minister Hon. James Marape emphasised the potential of rugby league as a potent “unifying force” for Papua New Guinea during his address at the Australian National Rugby League (NRL) Bid Corporate dinner in Port Moresby on Wednesday, July 19, 2023. The event took place as PNG seeks to secure its position as the 18th team in the NRL for the 2025 season.
The dinner, graced by the presence of Australian Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Hon. Pat Conroy, witnessed executives of major companies, Governors, Ministers, and MPs expressing their support for PNG’s NRL Bid. Hon. Conroy reiterated the backing of Australian Prime Minister Hon. Anthony Albanese and his Government for this endeavor.
Drawing inspiration from a quote by Nelson Mandela, the late South African leader who eloquently stated, “Sport has the power to change the world… It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination,” Prime Minister Marape underscored rugby league’s significance as the “common denominator” that has the potential to unite the nation.
“In the PNG context, rugby league is the ‘common denominator’ that binds and holds our society together, especially at the national level,” Prime Minister Marape stated.
He further added, “This is evident when our national team takes to the field. Even during challenging times, the pride of Papua New Guineans in rallying behind our national team is second to none. As the Government, we recognise that this pursuit will provide a platform to unite the most diverse nation on Planet Earth, under one flag.”
“The bidding process for a team in the NRL is not solely about rugby league; it is about uniting our nation behind a common focal point,” Prime Minister Marape asserted.
“This path will be instrumental in keeping our nation united for the next 50 years and beyond, with rugby league as our country’s number one sport. We, as the Government, saw the need for a public policy centred around making this game a unifying force in our country.”
Expressing gratitude for the support from the Australian Government in their NRL Bid, Prime Minister Marape remarked, “For us, nothing can be better than both the Australian Government and the Papua New Guinea Government working hand in hand to have a team in the NRL based in Port Moresby, with a footprint in Far North Queensland as well as in the South Pacific.”
“Our government stands firmly behind the bid to ensure that the 18th NRL spot is secured by a PNG team,” he said.
“Thank you very much to the Australian Government for your unwavering support and for embracing our vision for having a team in the NRL.”