BY MELTON PAIS
CURRENT Hela Wigmen halfback Benton Leme says close friend and Vipers forward Steward Nomi, 22, who died last week from Meningitis left a lasing impression on him and his teammates from local offseasson club the Redbacks.
What follows is an interview between myself and Leme on Nomi his death and what he will be remembered for.
MP: Did late Steward and you play footy together?
BL: Yes blood, we did. We formed a team together called City Redbacks for the offseason leagues in Port Moresby. Late steward was a co-founder of the team. We started playing together when we were 16 years old. We were a team of boys that had a common interest in sports and we were all the same age. He was the first player in our team to make it into semi-professional league (Digicel Cup) playing for the Vipers last year.
MP: What was Steward’s effect on his friends and teammates?
BL: Steward’s death broke our hearts because it was untimely and all his friends and the boys he played with are all in shock.
Our team was not just a team it was family. Steward was big in size but young. He was the one person everyone in the team looked up too. We all drew confidence from playing along side him. He spent a lot of his footy life with us and the team (City Redbacks). Our team motto was ‘free from alcohol and drugs’. When we had problems in our team, he was the person who stood up and held us together. He was kind a big brother to us. Our late brother taught t us a lot about playing Rugby.
MP: What was his influence on the team?
BL: Without him (his example), a lot of our best players would not have tried to make it into Digicel Cup.
MP: How are you and Steward’s other friends and teammates going to remember him?
BL: It was painful to lose him like that. Steward always told us that he wanted to be remembered and to make a contribution, leave a legacy after his playing days. I guess probably this is his legacy (the Redbacks). For us Redbacks he set us a legacy we will always remember. He left a space in our hearts. We love him as a brother and we will never forget him.
MP: Aside from his friends and family what was Steward passionate about?
BL: His aim in life I think was was not about getting into the NRL but to play for PNG, to be a Kumul. Above everything else playing for PNG was his goal. But the thing about Steward was he knew what his weakness were and what his strengths were. We’re all – his family, his mum and dad and everyone who knew him – going to really miss him but his legacy and memory will be with us.
BY MELTON PAIS