Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Lessons from the 1991 South Pacific Games

In light of the Melanesian Festival of Arts and Culture, and the forthcoming PNG Games in November and Pacific Games next July, we should take some lessons from the past. 
Last November, while back home in Lae, I had a long discussion with 1991 SP Games chairman and former Lae MP Bart Philemon (that's us pictured) about the lessons we can learn for 2015. 

Philemon, who spearheaded the most-successful games ever at a cost of only K30 million (and refused a knighthood for it), says it is imperative that facilities and athletes are prepared in time for the K1 billion 2015 games in Port Moresby.
“Our main concentration for the (1991) Games was to get the venues ready, and making sure that athletes were well trained for the games,” Philemon told me.
“If these (2015) Games are going to be successful in terms of most medals won by Papua New Guinea, they should by now have already started down the road of engaging experts to come and help athletes with their training and so forth.
“Seek opportunities to engage athletes in competitions that are overseas to expose them to the level of international competitiveness.
“We won 94 medals – gold, silver and bronze - which is the most medals won ever since the Games started and the last time that we (PNG) won that number of medals.
“We’ve got about 18 months to go.
“This is the time we should really concentrate on individuals in individual sports who have potential to win medals, and also concentrate on team sports that have proven to be high-competitive in terms of winning medals.
Philemon emphasised the importance of the games village and venues done well in time.
“We can’t afford not to have the games village ready in time, “he said.
“The main venues should be ready early so that teams have the advantage of getting used to using those venues in preparation for the games.”
Philemon recalled that back in 1991, the Games cost just K30 million, with sponsorships being both in cash and kind.
“The national government contribution was only K3 million,” he said,
“We raised K12 million through corporate sponsorship.
“Of course, we had K600, 000 for Team PNG through Porgera Joint Venture two years before the Games.
“That assisted Team PNG greatly in terms of engaging coaches from outside to come in and train the national teams to compete in competitions overseas to prepare them for the 1991games.
“Kina was much stronger then, it was stronger than US and Australian dollars, so that assisted us in staging the games much cheaper than now.
“We had two main stadiums because the Games were split into two venues, one in Lae and one in Port Moresby.
“The one in Port Moresby, Sir John Guise Stadium, was funded separately by the Chinese government and the Sir Ignatius Kilage Stadium in Lae was funded through Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA).”

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