By LEMACH LAVARI
MY son was excited for his first rugby match and invited myself and his mother to come watch his game. I too was excited to see my son play. I played rugby league as a young man so to see my son play rugby was something I felt a sense of pride in, it is a pleasure.
However, that day my son wasn’t given a chance to play, he was, as they say, a full time reserve (FTR) for that game.
As he was walking towards us after the game I told his mother to say nothing as I didn’t want the young fellow to break down in front of his team mates.
He sat down beside his mother and not a word was spoken for a while. After some strained minutes I said, son don’t worry you’ll be back. He looked up at me and just stared, I could see in his eyes despair and determination.
Later on, to motivate my son, I told him of my experiences on the field. In my heydays I played rugby league for the West rugby club in the Port Moresby Rugby League (PRL) competition. I also played for the Mahuru Eagles club in the Port Moresby South competition. I eventually made it into the Rabaul Gurias and was part of the team from 1999 to 2006
But there were setbacks before I could eventually get to don the uniform of the team from Tavurvur land. I am an electrician by profession and went there for the rebuilding efforts after the 1994 volcanic eruption.
I was quite a young bloke, in my early twenties. Whilst there, I trained with the Tomaringa Royals rugby team. I had made a name for myself playing rugby in Port Moresby but no one in the rugby circles in Kokopo knew me.
I wasn’t considered in the team for three weeks despite my turning up for every training session. On the 4th week I was told to get on the team bus.
This was my chance to play, I thought. I wrapped my boots in a plastic bag and held it under my shirt as I took a seat in the corner. The bus pulled up at the field and the coach started calling out names of those who will play that day. Twenty names were called. Mine wasn’t one of them.
I laugh about it today but on that day I cried on my way back home, I remember looking up at the sky and with a loud sigh said, Ah Araro veh eeri kotiroi. Oro ara hei nivi saferoi (You’ll still come looking for me and when we meet on opposite sides of the field, I will make sure you don’t forget me). I sensed that same feeling in my son on his game day.
I eventually played for another club in Kokopo. Our game against Tomaringa Royals, the club that rejected me, was victorious. I was out to prove them wrong. I was unstoppable that day.
I scored four tries and hospitalised one of their prop forwards, he was a policeman, the biggest man on the field. A few days later I met a Rabaul Gurias official in Kokopo town. He called, “hey skere” and we talked some. I joined the Rabaul Gurias the following week.
That same year in 99 the Rabaul Gurias appeared in a grand final for the first time and we came out winners over the Goroka Lahanis in Port Moresby. I also played in the 2001 grand final which we lost to Mendi Muruks. I was the lock forward for the Gurias.
Today my son is a regular in his team. He has since earned his spot and I must say he plays exceptional rugby.
By LEMACH LAVARI