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The Papua New Guinea Olympic Committee was formally established on Wednesday 2nd August, 1961. It has been a remarkable journey that has seen the organization transform from our humble beginnings as a group of dedicated volunteers eager to see the athletes from the Territory of Papua and New Guinea compete at the British Empire and Commonwealth Games and the South Pacific Games, to an organization of committed employees backed by the support of passionate stakeholders, still equally devoted to seeing Team PNG participate in and perform well at international sporting events.
The people who carried our organization forward in the early days are a testament to the love of sport and the firm desire to see PNG succeed in sport. Les Michel, Reg Johnstone, Sam Piniau, Jack Pini, Bruce Flynn and his wife Rita Flynn were some who were heavily involved in laying the foundation for what our organization is today. The people associated with the organization in those days worked with a skeleton operation, having no budget and no office space to work from. Operating as a non-government organization (NGO) in such circumstances made the mammoth task of developing our national sporting bodies and preparing our athletes for international competition that much more challenging.
The slow transition into a more professionalized body began in September 1984 with the appointment of John Dawanincura as the Secretary General and the first employed staff. Our organization was even able to base itself at the Port Moresby Netball Courts, however this did not last as after several break-and-enters at the office, Dawanincura was forced to relocate to his home and work from there. In 1986 a desk space was allocated to us at the Department of Home Affairs in Waigani. With Dawanincura at the Home Affairs office were two other paid employees as the Sports Federation began to expand. The expansion continued as in 1987, Dawanincura and the Sports Federation’s then five staff moved to a larger office space at the building housing the Taurama Squash Courts. It was here that the enormous task of ensuring the hosting of the 1991 South Pacific Games was successfully attended to. After the completion of the 1991 SP Games, the Sports Federation moved into the Sir John Guise Stadium office complex in 1992 where we were based for the next six years. During this period, a handful of dedicated employees worked under Dawanincura’s guidance, among them a young future Secretary General, Auvita Rapilla. In 1998 the PNGOC again moved, this time to the third floor of the TISA Haus building in Waigani. With the number of employees increasing as the operations of our organization grew, it was only a matter of time before relocation to a larger office space was needed. In March 2011, the PNG Sports Federation and Olympic Committee moved back to the Sir John Guise stadium, this time taking up residence in the Indoor Complex.
The location and the staff working for our organization have not been the only things to undergo change over the years; our name has also transformed reflecting the different periods of our existence. Originally named the British Empire and Commonwealth Games Association when first formed, we were next known as the Papua New Guinea Sports Union. We were then known as the Papua New Guinea Amateur Sports Federation in the 1970’s which was soon shortened to just Papua New Guinea Sports Federation. This was later changed to the Papua New Guinea Sports Federation & Olympic Committee and then to the Papua New Guinea Olympic Committee (PNGOC).
When dealing with our respective international sporting bodies, we take on the name of those events; the Papua New Guinea Pacific Games Association (PNG PGA), the Papua New Guinea Commonwealth Games Association (PNG CGA) and the Papua New Guinea National Olympic Committee (PNG NOC). Although our name has changed over our existence, our purpose and commitment has remained the same.
The PNGOC, the flagship of PNG sport development and international participation, has evolved over the last 50 years from a small group of enthusiastic volunteers, to a dedicated desk, to a secretariat of 18 staff and fully equipped office to service its members. Drawing on the experience gained over the five decades and benefiting from the efforts of all who have worked for the PNGOC, we have been able to become a reputable organization well recognized and respected both nationally and internationally.