It’s hard to imagine that just 18 months ago, gymnastics had barely been heard of in Papua New Guinea. And now, there are approximately 70 avid gymnasts using an extensive inventory of equipment, with a team of dedicated volunteer coaches and the Papua New Guinea Gymnastics Federation has been established.
All of this progress would not have been possible without some very valuable contributions. An incredibly generous donation of second hand gymnastics equipment was made by Harristown State High School in Toowoomba QLD. The shipping container full of equipment including beams, parallel and uneven bars, mats and a mini-tramp arrived in Port Moresby late in 2017. PNG Club volunteers conducted fundraising activities to cover the cost of freight. Outside of Australia, New Zealand and Guam, PNG now has the most extensive range of gymnastics equipment in Oceania. While all of this was going on, AER / WAG gymnast Deborah and her mum Pearl Rozenberg recognised that these gymnasts would need appropriate attire. With support from Kait Bastion of Gymnastics NSW they launched the LCT4PNG Campaign (Leos, Crop, Tracksuits for Papua New Guinea). The community got behind the initiative, which started with Deborah’s collection of old NSW State Uniforms and Pearl’s chaperone and team official uniforms. A huge shipment of GNSW donated items was gratefully received in PNG and is being sold at affordable prices as a method of fundraising.
In November 2017 the PNG Gymnastics Federation was established, with equal board representation from PNG citizens and expatriates and application for membership of the International Federation is currently in progress. For now, gymnastics activities are centred in Port Moresby, with a mix of expat and local children participating, but the vision is to extend to other regions. With a population of over 7 million and an obvious natural talent for the sport, PNG has plenty of potential for international representation in the future. The PNG Sports Foundation High Performance Unit are working with the PNG Gymnastics Federation to lay the foundations for athlete and coach pathways to lead the sport in this direction.
Oceania Gymnastics Development Manager Brooke Kneebush has visited PNG three times, conducting coach and teacher training, gymnast and school student clinics. Development visits in 2018 will include support to establish a schools event pathway and PNG’s first gymnastics competition.