By JACK AMI
PAPUA New Guinea Orchids prop Maima Wei made history by scoring the only try for her side against the Australian Jillaroos in Saturday’s international fixture at the National Football Stadium, Port Moresby.
With the match being the first ever game for the country’s women’s rugby league teams, Wei will now go down in PNG sports history as the first try scorer for the Orchids.
Although PNG lost heavily (42-4), Wei said it was a big struggle for the players, who started nervously but picked up momentum in the final 20 minutes to deny the Jillaroos further points.
“They outplayed us in the first three quarters. We defended solidly but the Jillaroos just kept scoring tries.”
The four-pointer Wei scored under the uprights was something to celebrate by the team who ran from all directions to congratulate the prop.
“My job is take the ball up and I was just there at the right time for Shirley (Joe) to pop that pass,” Wei said.
“It was unreal. I’m just so humbled to be a part of PNG history and sharing it with my teammates, my country and my family.
“As a Christian country we put God first and foremost in sports and in life and thank him for this amazing gift of life.
“It was the first time for us girls and we were all nervous but excited to be a part of history and what this meant for the nation as a whole in gender equality and moving together in the right direction and to stand together as a nation.
“We are a new team and we have learned a lot from the match and what level the standard of the game is being played at. We will get back into training with a better understanding.
“I am looking to the World Cup in Sydney. A fire has been lit in all of us and we will give our best for PNG.”
The 27-year-old hails from Dawa and Boromil villages in Chimbu and studied civil engineering in New Zealand.
She is currently working for her family company PNG Steel. She is a single mother of daughter Fiona, 6, and son Mogerema, 2.
“I come from a sporting family and I was involved in sports from a young age. I never liked rugby but I was approached by a friend in Dunedin (New Zealand) while walking back from the library, to play union,” she said. “Returning to my hometown, I switched to rugby league and now it’s become a passion.
“I wish I could say I started playing at a young age but I was 24 when I started playing league. I was the Northern Confederate captain for three years until I moved to Port Moresby this year and got selected to play for the Southern Confederate.
“My hometown is Lae so my club is Eriku Panthers. We won the minor premiership and the premiership last year. I have played for JKT Lim Tigers and this year I played for the Hanuabada Hawks. We came third on the ladder and got knocked out by Souths.
“As a young player coming into the camp I have learned so much in what rugby league does in a community or sports in general and I am excited.”
By JACK AMI