Sport is a universal language that unites people with different backgrounds and experience. It can build skills including competition, team work and fair play and has the capacity to build trust and connections in pursuit of a common goal. It also has benefits for physical and mental wellbeing. Australia and Papua New Guinea have strong links forged through a shared love of sport, and there is capacity for the relationship to grow even stronger by capitalizing on the shared love of sport.

Sport in Australia

Australian Prime Minister’s XIII players are welcomed to Kalabond field Kokopo. Photo: PNG Rugby Football League

Australia describes itself as a sporting nation. Australia prides itself on its love of sport. Popular sports played in Australia include Australian Rules football, cricket, soccer and rugby league, tennis and swimming.  Professional and amateur competitions promote these sports and foster interest in the competition.

The Australian government supports sport through the Australian Sports Commission. It oversees government funding for sporting bodies and the support of elite sporting development programs through the Australian Institute of Sport. The Australian Olympic Committee to manages accreditation and participation in sports that are part of International Olympic competition, and other national sporting organisations are responsible for the administration of their sports.

Sport in PNG

Marcus Bai carries the Queen’s Baton at the closing ceremony of the PNG Games 2017, Kimbe. (Photo: GC2018)

Sporting competition is a large part of social life in Papua New Guinea.  The most popular sports for competition and participation are rugby league, soccer, rugby union, volley, softball, netball, and basketball.  The Papua New Guinea Sports Federation  and Olympic Committee (PNGSFOC) manages sports funding and accreditation and participation in international Olympic competition.

Rugby League is said to be PNG’s national sport and this sentiment is reflected in the popularity of the national team the PNG Kumuls, and the recent addition of the PNG Hunters to the Queensland Cup state rugby league competition.

The PNG government’s sports policy aims to strengthen the country’s sporting networks to support the benefits to the broader society through participation in and engagement with sport. The goal is to use sport as a mechanism to address development challenges in health, education, life skills, gender equality, crime and violence.


Links & Resources

Australia has identified sport as a key element of its diplomatic relationship with PNG. It has extended its links through sport  program to connect and develop sports partnerships and networks in the region. Australia also supports sport in PNG to promote development projects in Health and Education.

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Emerging Leader Participants

Chris Amini - PNG Olympic Committee - Lowy Institute

Chris Amini

PNG Olympic Committee

ELD Year:

Papua New Guinea

Current Location:

Urith Toa - PNG Rugby Football League - Lowy Institute

Urith Toa

PNG Rugby Football League

ELD Year:

Papua New Guinea

Current Location:
Port Moresby

Urith Toa is Executive Assistant to the board and CEO of the PNG Rugby Football League, and is responsible for much of the day-to-day operational support for the executive of the prominent sporting organisation. Prior to joining the PNGRFL she worked in a number of communications and executive support roles, including with community support organisation The Voice Inc. She is a board member of the Young Professionals Network (YPN) that works to link and facilitate spaces for young people in the workforce to engage in critical discussions on topical issues important to them and be actively engaged citizens.

Alex Davani - International Olympic Committee Athlete Career Program, Trainer - Lowy Institute

Alex Davani

International Olympic Committee Athlete Career Program, Trainer

ELD Year:

Papua New Guinea

Current Location:

Related Organisations

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks Football Club & Sharks Have Heart - Lowy Institute

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks Football Club & Sharks Have Heart

The Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks are an NRL club, with a big heart and focus on the Pacific. Alongside the NRL club and stadium, the charitable foundation, Sharks Have Heart, raises funds and delivers social-impact initiatives in NSW and beyond. As part of the development of future leaders in the NRL squad, the Sharks travel to Kokoda to trek and provide a unique learning experience for their players. In December 2017, the Sharks signed an MOU with the Sydney NSW Wantok Association, and appointed two Papua New Guinean Ambassadors to represent the Sharks-Wantok: Wantok CEO Steven Gagua, and former Consul-General PNG to Australia Sumasy Singin.

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks Football Club & Sharks Have Heart

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