By WALLY HIAMBOHN
THE peregrine falcon is superfast, it is the fastest flying bird and is the fastest moving creature on earth with a diving speed of 322 kilometres per hour. The falcon bird species also has super effective hunting skills.
This bird of prey is not found in PNG but it is no wonder that a sporting club here has taken its name and has quickly dived in on the “kill” and achieved stardom in only its first year of competition. Betari Falcons, out of the notorious Morata settlement-cum-suburb, are now poised to lift the National Capital District suburban rugby league’s A and B grade trophies this Sunday.
The two teams swooped past all opposition from the start and are only two days away from being crowned competition kings. It’s been a season of immense success for a virtually unknown club that fluttered its wings for its first flight only 11 months ago.
The club has set the foundation for the future and is now sizing up for the kill for many seasons to come and from greater heights.
“The Betari Falcons will win the grand final, and win we shall,” a team official confidently declared as they await the big day on Sunday.
The club’s achievement so far and its players’ hunger to win the top prize underscores the far bigger story behind the mentoring and rehabilitation of what was initially a ragtag bunch of misfits.
Equal to the association of the club to the bird of prey they fancy is the man behind initiating, grooming and moulding the Falcon’s into becoming a virtual winning outfit.
As David of biblical fame conquered Goliath with one of three stones with his sling shot, the David of Morata is confronting two giants with this sporting concept. Unemployment and crime are synonymous to urban settlements and continue to have a negative foothold on society and place governments and authorities under extreme pressure.
Enter David Terry, club founder and patron. A kid born and bred on Betari Street, the very first 50-metre dead-end stretch of road leading off to the right as you enter Morata suburb just past the drain coming out of Tokam police barracks, Terry is familiar with Morata’s notoriety and is grabbing the bull by the horn, so to speak, and addressing its problems.
Morata is, by all definition, a settlement/suburb of ill repute, notorious for street crimes of all sorts and of the worst kind, with ethnic tensions and clashes a way of life.
Terry grew up from this arena which gave him a grandstand view and insights of settlement life, a game and a field he was lucky to have escaped playing in. Trying his hand at newspaper street sales to producing raw copies of rugby league and crime news reports for a newspaper, this school drop-out with ambitions to spare eventually found enough grit, confidence and link to enter the police force to work in its media and public relations unit. As they say, the rest is now history. Terry has, over the past 20-odd years, worked his way and moved up the ranks to become an Inspector and performing the tasks of a fully-fledged senior police officer, more than just media and public relations work. He is into more serious policing work, from chasing down and apprehending hard-core criminals, to covering elections, organising conferences and ceremonies and doing routine office chores at police headquarters. And by all counts, he is passionate, enjoying it and contributing to his best to the police force.
As a boy from out of the settlements, our David has lived and experienced many of the issues confronting our urban youth and communities. Identifying unemployment and crime as intertwined social ills, David has in his sling bag three stones to target these Goliaths of today; commitment, love and vision. His strategies are; commitment to duty, love for his community and youth and, a vision to creating opportunities for them.
To support his vision, an able management team has been elected to run the affairs of the club. The team comprises mostly of locals Thomas Mote (president), Glen Paki (vice president), Ava Eric Dop (team manager), Edwin Akoko (treasurer), John Yore (technical officer), Tuksy Karu (head coach), Vavine Yore (trainer) and Dr David Inaho (medical doctor). Judiciary committee chairman David Kara, passed away earlier this month and a replacement will be made soon.
The club also boasts of being one of the rare sporting teams at their level to have a fully manned and kitted medical team to attend to all types of injuries and health issues.
The idea of starting up a football club was borne out of Terry’s concern for the youth of Betari and its immediate neighbourhood, including Lobu Street, to give them an opportunity to bond as a team, represent their kind and keep away from street life.
“As a policeman, and one that grew out from here, I felt morally and socially obligated to initiate this community policing program at Morata.
“First and foremost you have to appreciate the level of social ills that’s taken hold of Morata and the society, it was a known haven for crime and drug and alcohol abuse and more. You have youth of different backgrounds and ethnicity that are difficult to deal with.
“When I first brought in the concept they were apprehensive and not sure because I was policeman and we the police were their enemy number one,” Terry recounted at a recent club event.
“They had been living a life of crime and hardship and were not about to change but we shone the spotlight on them and said; ‘now look, here’s a jumper, you are now a Falcon, go out there and play.’”
And it has worked wonders for the 50-plus boys involved, and their families. They have become champions and role-models in one stroke, or parallel with our biblical hero, with the one strike of David’s stone. The pioneering 50-odd boys now have a youth following numbering into the hundreds and gaining popularity.
In Terry’s words; “eleven months on I am proud to be standing here as the club patron and declaring that we have not only made it to the top of the competition but the boys have changed dramatically and so has their community.”
“We’ve brought change and rejuvenation into the hearts and minds of these boys and that’s been amazing.”
The boys themselves, and those in the know from the community now attest to a more secure and peaceful neighbourhood where the streets are cleaner and tidier, and the community is free of harassment, petty crimes and drugs and alcohol abuse, and a whole lot more positives in play.
The project is achieving the goals Terry has in mind, a community policing initiative that has proven to be a success in many similar settings in Port Moresby and throughout the country.
The youth are now more responsible, more respectful of themselves and to their community, an achievement Terry is hoping can be expanded out to the rest of Morata, if the program is given the financial support.
“It’s just incredible what we’ve done in just eleven months,” Terry says eyeing the players whose physical appearance has also changed into healthier and cleaner human beings.”
“Under the training regime they are fed, clothed, mentored, bond and pray at every opportunity for spiritual guidance and do community work.
“We’ve won the hearts and minds of these otherwise toughened street kids and are looking for bigger and better things.
“We’ve done tremendously well. We picked up some raw talent from among rejects and have found gold.
“If we had all the money in the world, we’d expand the program to the rest of Morata which has a frightening population of unemployed street kids that continue to terrorise and commit crime.
“We are doing our bit to support and localise NCD Governor Powes Parkop’s urban youth rehabilitation program and deliver of the Government’s agenda to address youth and social problems.
Seeing the results of his brother’s efforts, elder brother Apollos Terry, a police detective of 34 years has come on board to lend his support. His wife’s business, Killerton Investments Ltd, based out of Betari Street, which is contracted by the NCDC collect, dispose and manage wastes has come on board and sponsored the Falcons’ jerseys with promises of continued support.
Killerton Investments true motto should, in this sense, read; “Your trash is my treasure.”
Says the senior Terry: “We grew up at Morata and have seen it all, the types of hardship and crime the youth go through…and now my family wants to give them a chance to remove themselves from the street and become more productive, more self-respecting individuals.”
Grand final trophies and celebrations apart, in the game Terry and his band of former misfits play there are no physical prizes to be won, but just plain old common sense living where there is peace, security and harmony.
The concept has been planted at Betari Street in the form of the Falcons and is taking off in full flight to soar to far greater heights. The world is at their feet.
By WALLY HIAMBOHN