Two weeks ago, Minister of Social Services and Sports Hon. Sonya Talagi took the bold move to call a meeting with the leaders of the sports codes on the island including the national sports governing body NISCGA.
This is the first meeting called by the government to hear the grievances of the sports codes on the island which led to an impasse in the lead-up to the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Most of the sports codes were represented as sports leaders gathered to voice their concerns. In an interview with BCN News last week, Minister Talagi said that is was a matter of course that she as the Minister of Social Services responsible for the sports portfolio call this meeting.
“It was really sad for me to hear what was the position of sports and the different codes within Niue with respect to NISCGA and you know it was just something that I thought needed to be done.
In the lead up to the Commonwealth Games and during the selection of Team Niue to the Games last year, the sport governing body NISCGA took a strong stance in selecting the teams which led to a court injunction by Niue Lawn Bowls.
During this time, the government did not intervene to help resolve the impasse so when the invitation to attend this meeting was sent to all the sports codes two weeks ago, there was a sense of relief in the sporting community that the government had finally decided to step in although Minister Talagi was clear the government does not want to interfere with the sports operations but clearly there are concerns over governance, transparency and accountability.
“There is no intent for the government to interfere with the operations of each of the sports codes or even NISCGA itself however it’s become clear that good governance, transparency and accountability frameworks need to be strengthened. That is an element I think the government should have some say in particularly when there are bodies saying that they represent or are a national body of Niue”, said Minister Sonya Talagi.
When asked what the key message she heard at the meeting, Minister Talagi said that there were obvious frustrations and hurt with regards to the leadership of NISCGA and this came across clearly at the meeting.
Despite the differences and the frustrations Minister Talagi said she was very pleased to see the NISCGA President Maru Talagi at the meeting.
Hon. Sonya Talagi said that one of the key concerns raised by the sports codes leaders and representatives at the meeting held last week was over the selection of Team Niue athletes to the Pacific Games to be held in the Solomon Islands next month.
The Pacific Games will be held in the Solomon Islands next month. BCN News has reached out to NISCGA executive for more information on the teams representing Niue at those games.
It’s understood the majority of athletes selected to represent Niue at the Pacific Games are athletes based in NZ and Australia.
Minister Sonya Talagi said that all non-government organisations purporting to represent a national body or organisation with national interests ought to recognise the responsibilities that come with that responsibility.
The concerns over how NISCGA is making decisions is concerning for the government with Minister Talagi saying “ If you’re a national body of Niue whether it’s sports or any other NGO on Niue, there are national responsibilities that need to be taken into account”
The minister of sports said she is optimistic that the first meeting with the sports community on the island was constructive and informative and a good start to mending relationships and developing the way forward working together with NISCGA.