A development studies researcher from Massey University in New Zealand says governments of developing countries in the Pacific region must get behind investment in sport.
Dr Rochelle Stewart-Withers is in Papua New Guinea studying how sporting success can help developing nations' economic and social well-being.
She says investment in sport is fundamental and can be used as an entry point to achieve development goals.
"I think it is about having like a quite a clear commitment by government and also a policy that actually says we will support right at the junior level at a grassroots level so that people actually have a pathway in which they follow in terms of becoming elite sports stars."
Dr Rochelle Stewart-Withers says there are many spin-offs from investing in sport, including improvements in health, the economy and crime rates.