By ELLEN TIAMU
PAPUA New Guinea had a great week of rugby league two weekends ago, with the historical win of the PNG SP Hunters at the Queensland Intrust Super Cup in Brisbane against the Sunshine Coast Falcons, that was a follow on from a great game of footy between the Kangaroos and the Kumuls for the PM’s 13 the day before.
On the same Sunday as the Intrust Super Cup was happening in Australia, little-known rugby league players in PNG were running down the sod in Kerema, Gulf, in the 2nd Sport Fishing PNG Cup. In a match of young talents that began with play offs on Friday and Saturday, 10 teams from East Kerema and Taure Lakekamu were doing battle for the tournament cup at the Terapo Primary School grounds. .
Aiming to create awareness of sportsmanship and improved inter-community relationships, Sport Fishing PNG started this tournament in 2016, and has successfully run it 2 years in a row.
The finals on Sunday saw a match between the Lelefiru Raiders against the Moveave Sharks. The weather was perfect and sunny all throughout the days with the grand final match a sight to behold, with both teams showing professional run plays, keeping the crowd, from the surrounding villages of Tauri Lakekamu LLG area and coastal villages such as Uritai,Kukipi,Lalapipi and Lelefiru, on their feet for the full 80 minutes of play.
Lelefiru Raiders started off strong, scoring 2 tries before halftime without showing any signs of fatigue, while the Sharks fell short multiple times, even though they went in as close as a meter from their try line.
In the second half, the Moveave Sharks showed a resurgence as they scored an early try in the first few minutes. They were looking to come from behind as the Raiders led 10 – 4 with 10 minutes left in the game. Both teams fought hard and smart, but the Raiders’ defence adjusted well to stop the Sharks swimming past them and in the end, the Raiders prevailed to win the 2nd Annual Sport Fishing PNG Cup with the final score standing at 10 – 4.
The smooth running of the matches was all thanks to the Taure Lakekamu Rugby League Association’s assistance in officiating and helping organize the tournament, especially Emmanuel Oiimeve, chairman of the organizing committee.
The organizers are excited to welcome new sponsors for the 2018 tournament and are looking forward to improved playing conditions and prizes. Extra sponsorship is needed so that it will encourage the younger generation to get heavily involved in the sport in the bid to discourage drug abuse and social problems at the village level.
Sport Fishing PNG says it wants to encourage the teams to join and prepare better for future competitions, and so if more sponsors join in, more and better prizes can be offered. This will also see an improvement in the tournament itself and probably help improve the state of the rugby field, provide uniforms, etc.
The annual event is also aimed at encouraging young people to show case their talents. Sport Fishing PNG says they chose rugby league because it is a national sport that is played in the villages, and more young male youths can be engaged. The games also provides them with a physical outlet where they can train and improve themselves as young men in society.
The company currently spends K10,000 to run the tournament, but it hopes the figure will increase with more input through other businesses and organisations.
The company is looking at introducing women’s netball games or other sports for that matter, in the near future.
So while PNG’s involvement in international rugby league fixtures thrills our people to bits, it should be remembered that it is from little associations such as this that local players grow to become stars.
By ELLEN TIAMU