With its outdoor lifestyle and community focus, it’s only natural that sport plays a major role in the culture and pastimes of Papua New Guinea.
In fact, team sports are among the most popular activities of this Pacific nation, played everywhere from the grassy knolls of villages to the world renowned stadiums of Port Moresby, allowing a social opportunity with some healthy competition on the side.
If you’re looking to embrace all the vibrancy and excitement of Papua New Guinea, here are a few important facts you need to know about their enduring enthusiasm for sport.
Noted as a social “replacement for tribal warfare”, Rugby League is officially PNG’s national sport. Its popularity is so widespread around 50 per cent of the population plays League, and it’s an essential part of the school curriculum.
League is renowned as the activity that unites a nation, and in a country home to 800 languages, it’s a tradition and code that all understand.
Talented players who go on to represent PNG in their national team the Kumuls, or who are selected for play internationally, attain celebrity-like status.
Meanwhile, each year Port Moresby hosts a series of international League fixtures that see the stadiums filled to capacity.
This year Port Moresby plays host to three World Cup matches in October and November with tickets already selling fast.
While Rugby League may be the official national sport, the British influence ensures cricket also holds a firm place in select regions of the country’s sporting culture. Around the areas of Papua, the game is played enthusiastically in villages like Hanuabada, with players boasting increasing skill.
The emerging professional cricketing landscape has seen PNG attain international status, bringing them almost within reach of the 2015 World Cup finals and allowing them access to the One Day International realm.
Soccer ranks as the most popular team sport in the world, and PNG is among the countries embracing its allure. Around 20,000 residents officially play the sport, and it ranks as the single most popular sport for women of PNG.
That popularity witnessed a further groundswell of support in 2016 when Papua New Guinea hosted the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.
It’s not just team sports where Papua New Guinea features international grade talent. PNG has sent a team to most Olympic Games since 1976, participates regularly in the Commonwealth Games and also has a presence at the Pacific Games, including hosting them in 2015.
Although the nation is yet to win an Olympic Medal, they have taken out gold at the Commonwealth Games in lawn bowls and swimming.
Gudmundur (Gummi) Fridriksson, is the CEO of Paga Hill Development Company (PNG) Ltd, overseeing the development of Paga Hill Estate, a world-class, master planned estate located in the heart of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Gudmundur first arrived in Papua New Guinea over 20 years ago and is passionate about sharing PNG’s natural beauty and diverse cultures with the world. Find out more about Gummi Fridriksson on his website: http://www.gummifridriksson.com/ and about the Paga Hill Estate development at http://www.pagahillestate.com