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The Mount Wilhelm Rugby League is the latest league to join as an official affiliate of the Papua New Guinea Rugby Football League (PNGRFL).

Based in the Gembogl district of Chimbu (Simbu) Province of Papua New Guinea’s Highlands, the new league will play an import role in the PNGRFL’s plans to increase active participation from the local leagues and schools, PNGRFL Game Developer Manager, Toksy Nema, told The National.

“Rugby league is considered as a national sport, everyone wants to play it so the new strategic plan of the PNGRFL (2019-2029) covers both men’s and women’s rugby league and schools competitions” he said.

“The reformed governance structure has decentralised the administration of the game down to grassroots level, which includes leagues, and Mt Wilhelm have done well because they’ve met all the requirements set by PNGRFL.”

“Mt Wilhelm have come up with their revised constitution and have met the requirements like their draft budget and executives for the league so they are qualified to participate in the 2021 season”, Nema said.

Mt Wilhelm Rugby League President, John Kua, said the affiliation now provided an opportunity for players in Gembogl to have a sanctioned competition and programmes recognised by the PNGRFL.

“I’d like to thank the PNGRFL chairman Sandis Tsaka for giving us the chance to go back and develop the game at the rural level”, he said.

“A lot of times we don’t have the opportunity to compete in town competitions but now this is an opportunity for us to start our own league.”

“We have a lot of boys from our area that have gone on to play the game at the Digicel Cup and the Hunters so this will be another way of getting more potential players from both the boys and girls into higher levels of the game.”