17 October 2008
Australian visa problems make PNG late for World Cup
Half of the Papua New Guinea Rugby League World Cup team has been withheld in Port Moresby until their Australian visa applications are processed, reports Mail Online.
As a result of Australian visa application delays, 11 of the 24 players in the Papua New Guinea squad had to stay behind in Port Moresby while their teammates flew to Australia to prepare for the impending Rugby League World Cup. Two officials remained behind with the stranded players, and have organised a flight from Papua on Saturday to arrive in Townsville. England will be the first to match up against PNG Saturday week.
Papua's Prime Minister Michael Somare sent a letter of complaint to Australia's ARL and NRL regarding his country's exclusion from Australia and New Zealand's national league competition. He believes rugby league owes much to uniting his nation under a shared and peaceful passion, and has been a key contributor to national identity.
"Today's Papua New Guinea faces many challenges. The people need a national focus that will mobilise and unite the people, promote national unity and respect for a country of 800 different cultural backgrounds. I believe that having a PNG team competing in the NRL would certainly achieve that outcome. My government therefore is determined to give this endeavour a priority and hereby express our commitment to pursue the same," he said in a letter to the NRL board.
The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people apply for an Australia visa.
Article by Jessica Bird, Australian Visa Bureau.