PNG Sports Federation & Olympic Committee turns 50 with inaugural induction of two PNG Sporting Greats
The PNG Sports Federation & Olympic Committee (PNGSFOC) commemorated its 50th anniversary at the Lamana Hotel. Invited guests included the Minister for Sports, Sali Subam, former IOC Vice President Kevan Gosper, members from the diplomatic corps, corporate sponsors of the PNGSFOC as well as athletes and sports officials from both the past and present.
PNGSFOC President, Sir Henry ToRobert said that The PNGSFOC’s 50th anniversary was an historic milestone not only for the organization itself but also for the country and an incredible achievement when considering how far it has come.
“Originally called the Papua New Guinea Sports Union when formed in 1961 the main reason behind its formation was to enable the Territory of Papua and New Guinea to participate in the 1962 British Empire Games and the inaugural South Pacific Games in Fiji in 1963,” Sir Henry said.
He added that since then the organization has continued to work tirelessly to ensure PNG’s participation at major international events as well as creating every opportunity for the country’s athletes for representation at the Pacific Mini Games, Pacific Games, Commonwealth Games and the Olympics.
During the event the PNGSFOC also took the opportunity to launch the country’s very first Sports Hall of Fame with two inaugural inductees; Sir John Kaputin and Edward Laboran.
Sir John was the first Papua New Guinean national to break the racial barrier when he was admitted to play rugby league for the Kone Tigers Club in the previously all white competition in Port Moresby in 1960. In the same year he was selected to represent Papua in the annual Inter-Territory Championship against New Guinea. Sir John helped bring Kone a championship in 1961.
Sir John was also involved in athletics competing in the 440 yards and was part of PNG’s first team to an international sporting event, the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Perth, Western Australia in 1962. Edward Lobaran was PNG’s first international high jumper. At the 1963 South Pacific Games he made history as PNG’s first ever gold medal winner at an international sporting event when he won the high jump with a record jump of 6 feet 4.75 inches.
Edward’s SP Games record lasted for 12 years, while it remained the best jump by a PNG athlete at the Games for 40 years until it was broken in 2003. PNGSFOC Secretary General, Auvita Rapilla thanked everyone who had been involved in the organizations long history including the National Government, corporate sponsors, national federations and the countless volunteers.