Image: (L – R) Hanua Rupa and Max Simon Topani at Jackson’s International airport after receiving their boarding passes
PNGRFL Chairman Sandis Tsaka has congratulated Digicel Cup referees Hanua Rupa and Max Simon Topani, on their selection to officiate at the Confraternity Rugby League Carnival in Charters Towers, Queensland, Australia. The duo departed for Cairns over the weekend.
The carnival will attract 50 independent schools from across the State of Queensland to compete in a week-long event. It is nationally recognised as a breeding ground for the next generation of NRL stars.
The trip will be a first for the men, who have each been officiating matches for the past 4 years.
“The PNGRFL are working closely with the NRL to put in place development pathways for referees in the country. We want to improve the quality of the game and one way to achieve this by building capacity of upcoming referees in the country” said Chairman Tsaka. He added “This is why a bottom-up approach is being adopted to change the landscape of rugby league in the country and this is being done in collaboration with the NRL”.
Mark Mom, NRL General Manager said the NRL was happy to assist in setting development pathways for referees in country and working closely with PNGRFL to achieve this. Mr Mom thanked the Australian Government who through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade enables NRL to work with and build capacity in PNGRFL. The partnership helps the League Bilong Laif achieve one of its key objectives in building organisational capacity.
“The NRL is proud to work alongside the PNGRFL to help identify and work toward building capacity. Beyond the Goalpost program is an example of development pathway for junior referees to learn how to officiate games and targets school children. In the long run we hope the program will ensure a pathway for the aging referees that are currently officiating around the country, and add value to the standard of the game in PNG” he said.
While seeing the two off at Jackson’s International terminal, President of PNG Rugby League Referees Association Joe Peregua said both Mr Rupa and Mr Topani had shown commitment over the three years at Digicel Cup level. “Their hard work has paid off and they now have an opportunity to show what they are capable of doing overseas” he said.
Mr Rupa said he was looking forward to the trip with Mr Topani. “I look forward to putting a standard for young referees and also showcasing what PNG referees can do”.
Mr Topani also shared similar sentiments adding that it was a great opportunity for PNG referees to travel abroad to officiate. “When you are involved in rugby league, it can take you places. There is opportunity not only in playing but in refereeing as well”, said Mr Topani.
Both referees acknowledged PNGRFL and the NRL for making the trip possible and for the encouragement from mentors, friends and family.
President Pergua added that it was pleasing to see a development pathway for referees being set and encouraged the referees to do their best.
The two will return next week Saturday.
SOURCE: PNGRFL AND NRL (combined press release)