“It’s going to be a good games,” said Papua New Guinea Chef de Mission Ema Waiwai of the 2017 Pacific Mini Games, which officially gets underway in Port Vila, Vanuatu on Monday December 4th.
“The Mini Games standard set here is very very high.”
Waiwai was the chairperson of the Games Organising Committee of the 2015 Pacific Games in Port Moresby, PNG and Chef de Mission for Team PNG at last year’s Rio Olympic Games.
“You can just feel the hype when you get into the airport.
“Athletes going to enjoy their stay here and the people are very helpful and very friendly,” said Waiwai.
Team PNG was also given a rousing welcome at the airport by fellow countrymen and women leaving and working in Vanuatu.
“It was good for the team to know that we have people here and they are happy to support us.”
Team PNG aims to top the medal table despite bringing a small contingent of 140 athletes and officials.
They have entered athletes in only ten of the fourteen sports namely: athletics, boxing, beach-volleyball, golf, karate, table tennis, lawn tennis, weightlifting, netball and basketball.
“We definitely a very small team but we’ve come with one thing in mind and that is to still top the medal count.”
She was a bit hesitant in saying how many gold medals they were eyeing but said “based on analysis, we should be in the top three.”
Waiwai says they expect to do well in athletics, boxing, weightlifting and golf.
She’s banking on her netballers to scoop gold with the absence of Fiji and Samoa.
Team PNG expects to be very competitive as well in karate and table tennis.
Of the big names from 2015, Pacific sprint queen Toea Wisil leads the charge for Team PNG.
Team PNG is satisfied with their accommodation and the food is excellent.
The only hiccup according to Ms Waiwai might be in the language, “ because our pidgin is different from theirs.”
Vanuatu speaks Bislamar, which is mixed with French and English while PNG is mixed with English and German.
“It’s good to see all the smiling faces, just like in Rio, it’s the people connection that’ll make our stay a memorable one,” Waiwai said.