Kumuls’ success has lesson for all


THE rugby spectacle we witnessed at the National Football Stadium on Saturday – the 50-6 beating of Wales by our national team in the World Cup opener – will be remembered for a long time.
Not only was it the first time the Kumuls had beaten Wales but it also was the biggest scoreline registered by the national team in an international test match.
It was not only awesome to watch but also uplifting. Superb skills, almost flawless execution, artistry at work. It all seemed after those 80 minutes our national sport is coming of age so to speak. And quickly too.
It evened moved Kangaroos great Laurie Daley to suggest that it is time to include the Kumuls in the Australian National Rugby League competition. That’s a huge accolade.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, who also holds the Sports portfolio, summed it up for the nation when he said the result was indeed something to be proud of.
The Kumuls gave their passionate fans nothing but joy. One may ask what the game means to the people or how a sport played between two sides of 13 can impact people on the street. The answer is the number of people (14,800) who turned up to watch it live on their home ground, plus the hundreds of thousands who watched on television or listened to the radio.
O’Neill’s message to the team and its supporters served as an encouragement not just for staying the course and focusing on the task at hand, but in general as well.
The Kumuls went out on the field full of heart and passion for the nation and performed strongly against Wales.
The message which is so clearly for all to see is the magic created by and injected into the team by our players exposed to top-level rugby in Australia and as far away as the United Kingdom. Their flair and skills made a lot of difference no doubt.
Exposure to such level of rugby or any sport for that matter will benefit national teams. There is nothing stopping our young players from crossing the lake to try their hands out at Australian school or club level. All it needs is a bit of organisation.
We are lucky that we are the nearest to Australia in comparison to other Pacific rugby league-playing nations such as Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and the Cooks. It should not take much effort on our part to seek more interaction with our neighbours in terms of the development of the game. That is, if we are really keen on it. The Queensland Cup is a good start and we must press for more.
But let us start at home. Again let’s focus more on developing the game from primary school and club level. Once that interest, keenness and enthusiasm are kindled and developed early, there is nothing to stop young people from choosing a career path down that way.
As for the remaining World Cup games, O’Neill has advised the players to maintain  focus, stick to their training regime, and carry the heart of the nation on their jerseys.
The message that success in life does not come easily and that one needs to work hard to make something of oneself is born out here.
Coach Michael Marum has been repeating the same line about hard work, dedication, consistency and good preparation. He took the helm of the PNG Hunters in the Queensland Cup in 2014 and while many expected instant success, there were doubts.
The Hunters are a glowing example of the success that can be had with the right support and having the right management in place. Marum worked and learned under great mentors such as Mal Meninga, Bob Bennett and Adrian Lam.
He has obviously benefitted from it. The results are showing.
While the Kumuls have lifted the mood of the country, O’Neill is right in cautioning against making the mistake of thinking we have reached the destination or that early success is good enough. That detracts from the ultimate goal and the fortitude one needs to have to get there.
As for the moment, let us savour this thrilling moment of national success and jubilation but we must get back to work quickly.
There remains a long road ahead.
The biggest thrill is we have at least tasted what we can achieve at the highest level of competition if we put our minds to the task at hand. Nothing is impossible.

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