Sunday, February 9, 2014


PAPUA New Guinea medalists during the 2013 IX Mini Pacific Games were rewarded by the government last week.
The government followed up on its promise last year when the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and Sports Minister Justin Tkatchenko met the athletes and officials in Port Moresby in congratulating them for winning the Mini Games with 30 gold medals, 26 silvers and 31 bronzes (a total of 87).
Tahiti came second with 26 golds, 9 silvers and 5 bronze (total of 40) and New Caledonia third with 21, 13 and 9 respectively (a total of 43).

The PNG government is giving K500,000 (A$235,000) to the athletes. Each gold medalist will receive K3,000 (A$1,410), those who won a silver K1,750 (A$822.50) and bronze K1,250 (A$587.50).

Team PNG’s Chef de Mission, Richard Kassman thanked Sports and Pacific Games Minister Justin Tkatchenko and the Government, saying the incentive was timely and it would go towards helping the athletes prepare for other big tournaments this year leading up to the 2015 Pacific Games in Port Moresby.
"It is such a gracious offer from the government and we are very thankful," Kassman said.

Monday, December 23, 2013


With the festive holidays around the corner, let me wish you all a Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année (Merry Christmas and Happy New Year). Stay safe, stay healthy and plan to help others!

Monday, December 9, 2013


PNG Weightlifting strong-man Steven Kari on Dec 3 smashed the 94 kg Junior Men’s Commonwealth Junior Weightlifting records on the way to winning both the Junior and Senior Men’s Commonwealth Weightlifting Crown in Penang Malaysia.
Kari was the highlight of Penang’s leading newspaper, The Star reporting with the headline “Kari too hot to handle”.  

 Photo: Kari smashing the Commonwealth Men's Junior records in the 94kg division.

Kari beat a very strong field of lifters from India, Nigeria, Australia, Scotland, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and England to get Gold ahead of powerful Indian lifter and New Dehli 2010 Commonwealth Games GOLD Medalist Chandrakant Dadu Mali and Ribouem Simplice of Australia, lifting a total of 352 kg.
Kari needed only one lift in the Clean & Jerk to blitz the field after Chandrakant had taken the lead in the Snatch with 153 kg, just 1 kg ahead of Kari’s 152 kg. However, he could only master 188kg in the Clean & Jerk and when Kari lifted 190 kg in his first attempt,the Commonwealth Gold medal had found a new home in Papua New Guinea. With the Gold Medal secured Kari made his second lift with 200 kg on the bar, a task he made light work of to the amazement and cheers of a very appreciative audience. Kari did not bother to make a third attempt.

While Kari’s 352 kg fetched him the Gold Medal,Chadrakant totalled 341 kg to win Silver (153/188 ) and  Bronze medal went to Australia’s Simplice who totalled 337 kg (150/187).

The young Hanuabadan who has spent the last 3 years under the watchful eyes of Coach Paul Coffa at the Oceania Weightlifting Institute in New Caledonia, appeared so confident and in control right from his first lift.

On Thursday female lifters Guba Hale and Sandra Ako competing in the 69 kg Women’s category won a bronze medal each with Hale’s medal coming in the Senior Division andAko winning hers in the Junior division.

Earlier in the week Ovia sisters, Gillian and Bea, also won bronze medals in their 48 kg Women’s categories in the Junior and Youth divisions respectively.

Dika Toua made a convincing comeback to competitive lifting after recovering for the last 4 months due to illness finishing 6thand missing out with a Gold medal last attempt lift of 102 kg. Dika looked comfortable in the competition and showed her opponents that her best is not too far off once she gets full strength.

Monalisa Kassman and young Konio Toua (58 kg Women’s) made personal best lifts as did Lorraine Harry in the 75 kg Women’s. Doreen Ovia also performed strongly in her first International outing.

Thelma Toua, one of three Toua siblings competition equalled the Mini Pacific Games Gold Medal performance by the Fijian lifter in the 48 kg Women’s division.   

In the Men’s division’s Morea Baru finished 8th out of 10 competitors in the 56 kg category. Toua Udia performed well in the 77 kg Men’s category however missed out on medals.

Young lifters Ignatius Morea, Fred Oala, Isi Kevau Billy Puka and Veteran Boe Boge all missed out on medals.

The competition had more than 60 Commonwealth Nations represented and is a clear indication of the competition that can be expected at this level. The young PNG Weightlifters can take heart out of this experience and appreciate the level of competition they must reach to be at the top.  WitnessingDika Toua and Steven Kari’s heroics should encourage and take them to the next level.

The President of PNG Weightlifting Federation, Sir John Dawanincura in acknowledging a fantastic effort of Steven Kari also acknowledged the performance of how the Team PNG Athletes to the Commonwealth Senior, Junior and Youth Championships in Penang as outlined by Team Manager, Lakani Oala.

He stated that our main objective was to give our Senior Athletes in particular, the opportunity to compete against the best in the Commonwealth and gauge their performances, and expectations to a reality check re selection for the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

"The results in themselves for Athletes who did not win a medal had to be taken as a motivation to do better in their pursuit of excellence.

"I, therefore, take this opportunity to congratulate Steven, the other medalists and all our representatives for doing us proud.

"In conclusion I take this opportunity to also thank the Government through Hon. Justin Tkatchenko, Minister for Sports, 2015 Games and National Events for the unprecedented level of funding to Sports.  We would also like to acknowledge Andrew Daubney, General Manager Marketing & Sales Trukai Industries for their ongoing sponsorship.

"On behalf of the Athletes and Officials to the Penang Championships I also wish to thank the Secretary General, Mrs Auvita Rapilla and her Management Team for their efficient support to Sports through Go for Gold program.

"Last but not least I would like to thank the Coach of our Elite Athletes in Noumea Paul Coffa for his continuous support, Douglas Mea our National Coach and our Management Team of Lakani Oala, Richard Kuna and Winis Tua."

NOTE: Steven Kari and his elder sister Rita both won three gold medals at the IX Mini Pacific Games in Wallis and Futuna in September. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013


THE next big thing coming up for most countries in the Pacific is the Commonwealth Games to be held in Glasgow, Scotland, in 2014.
Following that, the 22 states and territories will be participating in the 2015 Pacific Games in Port Moresby, PNG.

Photo: PNG's Champion swimmer Ryan Pini with the baton (and others) in the Queen's Baton Relay as part of the Commonwealth Games preparation in Port Moresby recently. 

The PNG Government in its 2014 Budget this week marked K386 million (US$158 million) to build and renovate infrastructure to prepare the stadiums, fields and courts for the Games.

Athletes and officials coming for the Games will be accommodated in a brand new accommodation complex.
The PNG Government had the same kind of arrangement in the 1991 Pacific Games – also hosted in PNG.

More on this next week.  

Thursday, November 14, 2013


GIVE TO HELP VICTIMS OF TYPHOON YOLANDA … A few days ago, a member of a FB group, a Filipino, appealed for assistance to help rebuild the lives and infrastructure of people in the Philippines after Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) ravaged Central Philippines and elsewhere. (Some countries in the Pacific – like Palau – were also affected.)

It was reported that possibly 10,000 lives were lost in that mega-natural disaster in the Phillipines.
I was kind of looking around to see if the Filipinos in PNG were organizing fundraising activities where those of us who want to assist in anyway could come forward and help rebuild broken lives affected by the typhoon.
The good news is the Filipino Association in PNG is on the move.

Photo: Please give to help. Refer to ad, for those in PNG.

They have arranged for donation centres in different parts of Port Moresby.
Please refer to the pic/ad and give what you can to help our brothers and sisters who have lost loved ones, are now without money, houses, food, water, clothes, etc.
Please give to help.    

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


IT was quite challenging for me when moving around the Games Village during the Mini Pacific Games and greeting people appropriately – in English, French or Wallisian.
(Yes, I learned the basic phrases of salutation in Wallisian before we left for the Mini Games.)
The challenge was when I passed by Samoans, Tongans or Wallisians (all Polynesians) and if they were not donning uniforms – it was quite difficult to tell who was who and greet them appropriately.

On the afternoon of Sept 1, we – two other PNG female managers and two of us, male managers – visited the coffee shop in the Lycée Games Village.
In fact, since I was one who settled in first and being more familiar with the place, I was the one showing them around.
When we entered the shop (boutique), there was this Polynesian man sitting at one of the tables sipping coffee.
The large TV screen in the room had a French programme going on.
We had a look around the shop, assisted by the two Wallisian female staff (who spoke fairly good English) and then took a seat next to the man with the coffee.
The female managers decided to buy soft drinks for all of us who were visiting.
We were sitting there and I looked over to the Polynesian and said:
“Bonjour. Tu es Wallisien? (Hellow. You are Wallisian?)
He replied with a smile: “Sorry. I am Tongan.”
There was laughter coming from the two Wallisian female staff.
We all saw the fun in my mistake.

I said: “Really, I cannot tell the difference between a Wallisian and another Polynesian.”
Knowing that Wallisians and Futunians have links to Tongans and Samoans, I asked the man: “We know that the Wallisian language is related to Tongan. Do you understand a Wallisian speaking in his or her language?”
The man said: “If they speak slowly, we can understand. A lot of words are similar to words in Tongan.”
The man introduced himself and we (the other managers as well) had a good afternoon telling stories about people we had met – for him, Papua New Guineans who had visited Tonga and for us, Tongans who had been residents or visitors to PNG.
He told us he was a va’a athlete (for quite some time too) and would very much like to come to work in PNG.
One of the female managers said he should try applying to the mines. (Yes, there are quite a number of mines in PNG.)

One night, I was walking towards the boutique (to get some WiFi vouchers) when I noticed a heavily-built Polynesian lady walking along the footpath, just behind me.
In trying to be courteous, I looked back and said “bonsoir (good evening)”, thinking she was Wallisian or Futunan.
She said: “Sorry, I am Samoan.”
I said: “Sorry, good evening then.”
She replied: “Good evening.”

Photo: Wallisian mess (restaurant) staff at the Lycée Games Village barbecuing chicken on Sept 1. To communicate with most locals, it is best that one learns French or Wallisian.

One afternoon, I got on the bus to travel from the Lycée Village to go to the Kafika Stadium.
There were a lot of athletes from different countries on board.
Some were speaking English, while others were speaking in their local tongues.
As we passed by some other athletes and officials on the road, one of the men on the bus called out “stop, stop, stop” to have the driver stop and pick up some of his countrymen who were walking.
By the way the Wallisian driver was going, it seemed he did not understand what the call was for.     
“Stop, stop, stop,” the man called again.
“Arretez, s’il vous plaît (Stop, please),” I called, attempting to help the man stop the bus.
Then the bus came to a stop and the door was opened for the men on the road to board the vehicle.
I thought it was a lesson for all of us.

For those of us coming from English-speaking countries, we must understand that some of our Pacific neighbours can only understand us if we learn to communicate in French.
I have said it here (back in PNG) that “we the English-speaking nations in the Pacific are ignorant of the French-speaking territories in the region”.
That is sad, but true.