Minister for Higher Education, Research, Science & Technology & Sports, Wesley Raminai, released a statement paying tribute to these great men and woman, adding that each of them has touched the lives of thousands of Papua New Guineans in their respective disciplines over the years.
The most recent passing was that of rugby union coach Douglas Guise on January 14th, 2021.
Minister Raminai relayed his sincere condolence to the family and friends of the former Pukpuks captain, who collapsed during training last Thursday in Port Moresby and could not be revived despite being rushed to the hospital.
“Dougie”, as he was affectionately known by family, friends and the rugby and sporting community, had set some high standards that made him a great loss to the game. Among his achievements as an international player who has worn the PNG colours on many occasions, Guise made the transition to coaching quite successfully, taking the Pukpuk 7s brand back to the world stage.
“He (Douglas) is a great loss to the sport of rugby in PNG. He had also made quite an impression with his coaching ability at the world level, particularly in 7s rugby, and was highly regarded for his great personality as well,” Minister Raminai said.
“My deepest condolences to his family and friends in this most difficult times.”
Raminai also used the opportunity to pay tribute to the other three prominent personnel who have passed on over the past two months.
“The past couple of months haven’t been good for sports as we have lost some very influential sporting personalities who have made significant contributions to their respective sports, either as athletes or coaches,” he stated.
Raminai said in Morobe Province, Elanga Buala passed away on Thursday, January 7th. She was prominent in the sport of athletics; a star sprinter on the track. Her highest achievement during her running days was representing Papua New Guinea at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
“The year 2020 did not end well in December as tennis lost Kwalam Apisah, whose contributions to the sport is unrivalled as he has produced many champion players from PNG, who have gone on to dominate their respective divisions in the Pacific region,” outlined the Minister.
“Before that also in December, Iwila Jacobs whose contributions to weightlifting and powerlifting has been quite outstanding, lost his life due to illness.
“He continued to contribute to sports in general as a staff of the PNG High Performance Sport in Port Moresby until his passing.”
Raminai sent his condolences to the families and friends of these great sports personalities, adding that many young men and women would have been inspired by these people at various stages of their sporting careers.
He said unlike more developed countries, the motivation to stay committed to sports was different whereby champion sports men and women became rich from their sporting talent.
“We cannot say the same for sports in PNG in terms of the personal benefits our sporting greats derive for their time and effort but the passion by our sports men and women like these fine athletes have demonstrated over the years, is undeniable and would be in the same class as the developed countries.
“We pay tribute to them for their contributions and may their souls rest in eternal peace.”
(From top left: The late Iwila Jacobs, Kwalam Apisah, Elanga Buala and Douglas Guise will always be remembered)