14 Apr 2020

CHAIRMAN SANDIS TSAKA RESPONDS TO QUESTIONS ON THE PNGRFL’S COVID-19 RESPONSE

Due to various multiple queries from different media outlets regarding the specific matters related to PNGRFL programs and responses in lieu of the Covid-19 pandemic, I am releasing this standard response to all until further advice later this week. 

As stated by the PNGRFL earlier, the impact of ongoing covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent restrictions has had serious consequences for not just the football calendar but also the operations of the PNGRFL across all its six (6) tier competition structure as expected commercial revenue sources and corporate sponsorships for the programs have been greatly impacted.  

The PNGRFL’s six (6) tiered programs affected are: 1. Mini Mode – delivered in partnership with the NRL for Under 6 to Under 12 aged boys and girls;  2. Coca Cola National Schools Rugby League – school-based program in 16 provinces delivered across PNG for Under 14, Under 16 and Under 18 divisions for boys and girls; 3. All affiliate League Competitions – run by over 52 affiliate leagues across PNG in 21 provinces for Under 20 and Senior Men and Women; 4. PNGNRLC Digicel Cup Competition – 12 provincial professional franchises playing our of 9 towns in PNG; 5. SP PNG Hunters – elite HP professional team playing in the ISC, QRL; 6. Internationals – PNG LNG Kumuls and Oil Search PNG Orchids. 

Apart from the above competition structure, other key programs such as game development, elite talent development pathways, training, accreditation for players, coaches, officials and referees have been impacted.  

Also affected are domestic and international tournaments such as provincial, confederate and national championships for all divisions as well as PNGRFL HQ operations and the outstanding PNGRFL AGM which continues to be deferred pending the lifting of restrictions under the S.O.E. 

We know that if the PNGRFL together with our partners do not act proactively to mitigate the risks on both the commercial and football operations front, the sport faces the real threat of potentially regressing to pre-2013 era when the sport and the PNGRFL was lost and had to be rebuilt from the ashes. 

A real challenge to planning for us is the uncertainties around the ongoing pandemic on when it will be effectively contained, (if at all) and the future ramifications not only to the sport but on the sensitivities around health and hygiene, lifestyle behaviors and public expectations regarding social events and engagements post the pandemic.  

We are faced with a unprecedented scenario and the PNGRFL has been in ongoing consultation with its partners over the last couple of weeks and has reviewed all its domestic and international programs across all its six (6) tiers in light of the impact of the ongoing covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent travel and public restrictions enforced by our own national government and other governments all over the world. 

We acknowledge the continued support and commitment of all our corporate partners and stakeholders during these difficult times and we are greatly encouraged by the unity shown by all our partners and stakeholders. We are confident that together we will overcome this adversity. 

We continue to closely monitor the situation in PNG in consultation with the relevant authorities and our key partners and the PNGRFL expects to make some major announcements on our collective responses regarding both the commercial sustainability of our current programs and the revised options for our domestic and international football calendars later this week. 

The PNGRFL’s decisions will take into consideration the health and welfare of all our stakeholders and the greater interest of the game.    

Until then, please heed the advice of our public health professionals to follow the appropriate medical protocols and take care to protect yourself, your family and your community. 
 
 

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