Australian High Commission
Rugby league stars from Australia and Papua New Guinea will today throw their support behind efforts to expand access to sport for PNG women and girls.
In Kokopo ahead of the Prime Ministers XIII match, players and coaches from both teams will highlight the power of sport to empower women and girls and the importance of men in supporting gender equality.
A coaching master class will be held for the PNG Raggianas women’s rugby league national team, while more than 150 children will participate in a clinic demonstrating the educational and health benefits of sport.
The events in Kokopo will coincide with the International Day of the Girl Child, which is observed globally on 11 October to recognise girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world.
In the coaching master class for the PNG Raggianas squad, Australian PM’s XIII coaches Tim Sheens and Laurie Daley will hand over ‘Women in League’ footballs donated by the National Rugby League (NRL) to the Papua New Guinea Rugby Football League (PNGRFL).
The 500 footballs will be distributed to women’s leagues across the country in a joint initiative with the PNGRFL.
Director for the Women Rugby League Program of the PNGRFL, Wendy Kohun, said: “This assistance is very timely for our program as the PNGRFL is rolling out the women’s program across the region.
“We would like to reach our goal of involving as many women as possible in the sport as a way of remedying some social issues faced by our women in the country.”
The coaching master class at Kalabond Oval will cover topics including individual performance, working together as a group and improving the structures of women’s rugby league in PNG to support the sustainability of the game.
The PNG Raggianas will play in a curtain-raiser to the Prime Ministers XIII match on October 12.
Meanwhile, players from both Prime Minister’s XIII teams will participate in a League bilong Laif clinic for 150 children at Kokopo Primary School.
Supported by Australia and delivered by the NRL, the League bilong Laif program will provide 50,000 PNG boys and girls, including those with disability, with the opportunity to participate in rugby league
based activities at school to encourage healthy lifestyles and boost physical, social, literacy and maths skills.
League bilong Laif trains teachers to provide rugby league based activities at school.
More than 200 teachers have been trained and 5,000 boys and girls have completed the program since it began in 2013.
Around 75 per cent of the teachers trained have been women and 50 per cent of the children participants have been girls, expanding girls’ access to the sport.
The Australian High Commission’s Minister Counsellor, Development Cooperation, James Hall, said sport can make a significant contribution toward women and girls becoming equal members in society.
“Sports activities can provide girls and women with a chance to develop and increase their self-confidence and girls and women who excel at sport can act as role models for others.
Girls and boys playing sport together equally encourages respect, which is an important message of the Prime Ministers’ XIII event.”