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FIBA officials visit Papua New Guinea; proud of basketball's growth in the country

Photo: (From left) FIBA COO Markus Studer, PNGOC General Secretary Auvita Rapila, FIBA Oceania Executive Director David Crocker, Team PNG Chef de Mission to PG2019 Emma Waiwai and BFPNG President Nick Daroa

Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea) - FIBA Chief Operating Officer, Markus Studer, and FIBA Oceania Executive Director, David Crocker visited Papua New Guinea to observe the basketball programs organized by the country's National Federation last 11-14 April 2019.

The FIBA officials held meetings with various organizations in the country including the Papua New Guinea Olympic Committee (PNGOC), Australia High Commission, Business For Health (B4H) and Papua New Guinea Sports Foundation (PNGSF) to discuss and review the programs of Basketball Federation of Papua New Guinea (BFPNG), which has produced remarkable development for the sport in the last few years.

"This was my 10th visit to PNG since 2013 and the progress in the sport has been rapid over the past few years post-2015 Pacific Games. The profile of the teams with their on-court success as well as the facility has given basketball a good platform to grow. As the second biggest nation in Oceania, we need the game becoming more popular in the communities. Traveling around Port Moresby you can see more courts and more young people playing, it's building a strong community base for the sport," said Crocker.

Photo: ( From Left) BFPNG President Nick Daroa, FIBA Oceania Executive Director David Crocker, FIBA COO Markus Studer, Business For Health Tuberculosis program Manager Ann Clark during a meeting

BFPNG in cooperation with FIBA has organized "Basketball For Good" (B4G) programs in Papua New Guinea which uses basketball as a tool to improve the quality of lives in the communities while teaching the game. 

BFPNG reported impressive growth in participants numbers over the last three years, highlighted by almost 16,000 in 2018 which featured more than 7,000 women participants. The growth saw a massive 1,850% increase in women participants in the span of three years; the result is a source of pride of the partnership between BFPNG, FIBA, and funding from the Australian Government's Pacific Sports Program.

"We had a lot of meetings over the past few days and on every occasion, we heard stories of the positive impact these "Basketball For Good" programs are having. The extension of programs into the settlements is making a real difference for these kids that often don't get many opportunities and these opportunities focus the kids away from anti-social behavior," shared Studer, who visited Papua New Guinea for the first time.

"The national team players that are delivering the programs told us that it made them feel proud of helping their community and was increasing their ability to lead in their communities. We are proud of the way the volunteer coaches and coordinators have developed into and the small role FIBA has played in providing them the opportunities to grow," he added.

Photo: PNGSF officer Sapau Tapo , Studer and provincial advisor Christine Masiu during the Mum's A Hero launch in Kokopo, Papua New Guinea.

Crocker highlighted FIBA's meeting with the PNGOC and shared that BFPNG has established itself as one of the top sporting organization in the country.

"Every visit to PNG I meet up with IOC Member and PNG Olympic Committee Secretary General, Auvita Rapilla to share how BFPNG and FIBA are working together to grow basketball in PNG. Auvita commented on how BFPNG has really established itself as a serious organization," shared Crocker. "The NOC is optimistic of basketball breaking through for medals in the 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa. These were more upbeat discussions than previous years and that is because BFPNG President, Nick Daroa has led a stable organization and steadily developed its capacity to deliver the sport."

Studer and Crocker were also invited to the launch of BFPNG's Mum's A Hero program in the town of Kokopo, the capital of East New Britain in Papua New Guinea which featured a traditional welcome to the FIBA officials.

Photo: Kokopo welcoming the FIBA officials with traditional dance in the Mum's A Hero launch.

"The Mum's A Hero launch in Kokopo was one of the highlights in my six years with FIBA. The launch connected me with our strategy in Oceania which is named; From the village to the international arena. Visiting this beautiful village in Papua New Guinea and seeing the effort of a lot of people that went into preparing the courts, practising and then performing the traditional welcome and the training they had in playing 3x3 over the previous few days showed me that when we as FIBA provide opportunities, communities no matter how remote, will make the most of them," Crocker proudly shared.

"It's not just about the basketball, all of these steps in organizing the day strengthens the sense of community. In a country that has a poor record in its treatment of women, this was another step forward towards a strong a safe community for everyone and sport, our game is playing a role," he added.

The partnership between BFPNG, FIBA, and funding from Australia's PSP has epitomized the positive impact and difference basketball can have in the communities of Papua New Guinea. With the growing influence and continuous patronization of the local communities of the sport, the future of Papua New Guinea and basketball in the country is in a good place.