By WALLY HIAMBOHN
LAST Christmas young Pomei Nyama, 18, was a school drop-out with no hope and no future.
Key to his dropping out at Grade 10 from Laloki Secondary School in 2015 was the separation of his parents, which left him in the care of his mother. He had no worser place to sit and ponder over his life’s prospects than at Port Moresby’s Morata suburb. The choices before him were limited and easy to make: to join or not to join the crowd.
Nyama did join the crowd alright, doing the odd street crime and indulging in the dark activities with his peers for the best part of 2016. The opening stretch of road into Morata and the immediate Betari and Lobu streets neighbourhood was their turf, and they were boss.
That was until eleven months ago when a knight in blue armour materialised into his dreams. It was in the form of policeman David Terry, who brought that hope and future Nyama had so much longed for but was seeing disappear from his grasp.
To begin his community policing project, Terry established the Betari Falcons rugby league club and rounded up the streetwise kids of his Morata neighbourhood. For Nyama and gang, Terry was a godsend.
The nuggetty aspiring Kumul was quite a find for Terry and the Falcons because Nyama has since shot to football stardom with the team. He was one of only three from the club, and also the entire NCD Suburban League, selected to play in the Southern Zone trials and later went on to captain the championship winning Southern Zone team that played in the national championships in Lae recently.
Nyama has heaps of sporting ambition and his dreams for further education and emulating his football hero Stargorth Amean, of PNG Hunters and Kumul fame, are now not too far-fetched. The utility back hopes to one day play big time in the National Rugby League in Australia, if luck comes his way.
“We had a tough life and struggled every day,” the kid of mixed Sepik, Chimbu, Kairuku and Goilala parentage shared this week.
“There was nothing else for me to do but join my street buddies and do what everybody else was doing,” he said of their past mischiefs.
Terry, he said, came along at the right time and rescued him and his motley crew from engaging into more dangerous and
“For me it’s been a great opportunity and I am so thankful for that,” Nyama said in Tok Pisin.
“He and the management team have made us realise our worth, to be respectful of ourselves and of others and to become productive citizens. Prior to this happening, many of us did not have teams to play in and would just tag along to the games and try our luck to fit in somewhere.”
“We are so pleased that Terry’s made our lives meaningful, it’s been a big morale booster for us. That’s the reason why we will continue to call him ‘papa’.
“You will find that a lot of our boys have changed and now understand what it is like to behave and to have a positive mindset. There is now community unity, there are no more fights and there is peace.”
Nyama is already developing as a player of worth and big promise. At high school he participated in the schoolboys’ league competition and now fits in easily at lock, fullback and winger. For the Falcons he has alternated between the A and B grades. He captained one of the suburban league teams’ Under-20s selection trials to compete for Southern Zone selections.
Nyama recalls that when he was selected into the Southern Zone squad he couldn’t sleep that night out of sheer excitement. The team went on to compete in Lae and returned as zone champions.
“This has been a really good year for me and I have really enjoyed it. Life would have been so different had this opportunity not come around,” he said.
The eldest of four children, Nyama is keen to grab an opportunity to complete his education and find employment in one of the resource projects in the country. He believes becoming a motor mechanic would be the most ideal occupation for him.
He says of the rehabilitation and sporting program; “I am seeing its benefits now and want it to be expanded to other parts of Morata and to all other settlements and suburbs in Port Moresby.”
“The Government has to do more to create opportunities for us the youth because this is our country and we need a future, too. We need to live, we need to sustain ourselves.”
For his mentor Terry, Nyama has all the markings of a class footballer and productive citizen. He says, the young man had the character and resilience to come through a family crisis and is a prime candidate for rehabilitation and development.
He is confident better things are on the horizon for Nyama and his mates. They just have to play right and the rest will fall in place.
- The writer is a freelance journalist