The Eastern Papua Carnival (EPC) has existed over forty years. Annually it hosts an off season soccer tournament largely for the Milne Bay community residing in Port Moresby. The relatives and friends of this community have also been involved in this socially interactive tournament.
Beginning with a plain objective of garnering its meagre resources to address pressing welfare issues particularly the repatriation of its deceased members back home, EPC has grown over the years to provide an enviable platform for both women and children football enthusiasts. Annually hosting between 30 – 50 participating teams from 20 – 25 existing soccer clubs, EPC now boasts a bumper crowd attendance of some 5,000 spectators to its annual tournament. As well, some of these participating teams come all the way from the various islands of Milne Bay including the main capital of Alotau.
As an overview, the key attraction and therefore an asset that EPC has cultivated over the four decades is its unrivalled ability to draw crowds into its annual tournaments. This it must be said remains the EPC tournament’s draw card. It is this crowd that generates excitement, competition whilst engendering relationships and by extension positively creating new bonds and intermarriages. EPC is certainly a melting pot that no other association has been able to sustain over four decades. This is no overstatement compared to what other similar community-oriented soccer tournaments could provide for their members within the city of Port Moresby.
Over the years however, EPC has struggled to financially sustain itself on a continuous basis and thereby ensure that its goals and objectives are strategically aligned with resourceful opportunities and existing governance structures. EPC does not for instance, have playing fields or even stadiums, supporting personnel such as referees, sanctioned programs and program coordinators and/or revenue generating activities in the likes of membership clubs, etc. These are vital supporting activities that ensure the sustainability of tournaments and sporting codes. In a nutshell therefore EPC and now EPA does not have its own autonomy to operate independently and competitively.
The move by the executive in 2019 to register EPC with the Investment Promotion Authority was critically decisive. For the first time EPC was clearly defined as an activity (and no longer the executive) that feeds off the overarching governing role of Eastern Papua Association (EPA). This separation of functions is necessary in ensuring good governance on one hand, and efficient delivery of the tournament on the other. As a registered body, EPA has now gained the much needed legitimacy to enter into commercial relations with opportune and interested parties. In 2020, the executive also moved quickly to establish a website in order to promote its perceived corporate image, its activities, history and social responsibilities. This is needed in order to sustain EPC as an activity hence, tournament and EPA as the governing body into the future.
The Strategic Way Forward
It is on this basis that the current executive has decided to explore options for immediate affiliation with parties that can in EPA’s judgment help propel its ambitions. The following strategy and options have been deliberated extensively over months and the executive has resolved to pursue it with gusto and determination.
1. EPA along with the EPC tournament must immediately align with PNGFA, and by extension Oceania Football Confederation, and therefore the world body in FIFA.
2. To achieve this long term goal, EPA must immediately affiliate itself with the Port Moresby Soccer Association (PMSA) who is an official affiliate to the PNGFA. PMSA being a representative of football activities from Port Moresby, the National Capital District. This choice is made ahead of PSSA given PMSA’s long history of existence, along with its vital assets in owning several playing fields that it enjoys.
3. This strategic move is justified by the economics of it given that EPA has been expending up to 33% of its annual budget on the hire of playing fields and referees. This expense must be arrested and controlled.
Given that EPA through its EPC tournament has demonstrated ability to draw crowds, and potentially for PMSA, EPA is therefore pursuing the following proposals:
1. For EPA to immediately become a full affiliate member of PMSA
2. As per the constitution of PMSA a proviso be granted that EPA through the EPC activity is integrated into the PMSA annual calendar whereby the six-week EPC tournament falls either in mid-year around July or end of the year between October and November. The draw card for EPA and PMSA is the bumper crown to be drawn in by the EPC tournament. And by being integrated into the PMSA calendar, PMSA will gain from the crowd attendance and therefore an additional revenue generation scheme for PMSA and EPA as well.
3. With its current commercial status EPA can become a business arm of PMSA to be granted rights to operate business activities within the PMSA premises. This includes establishment of restaurants and social clubs, craft markets and related eateries.
4. Using EPA’s existing football programs on coaching clinics and refereeing for the school children, EPA could be allowed to promote these programs through the PMSA sanctioned platforms as well as through its operating website for online access.
The EPA executive strongly believes that the above proposals when embraced and accepted will create a win-win environment for both PMSA and EPA into the immediate and long term future.