By ISAAC LIRI
CONTRARY to what many might think, not every member of the SP PNG Hunters squad is a fulltime player.
New recruit Kevin Appo is one of several who balances his time between the squad and pursuing off-field interests.
The 20-year-old juggles his Hunters commitments and tertiary studies.
Appo, of mixed Eastern Highlands and Chimbu heritage, attends lectures at the University of Papua New Guinea during breaks and free times during the Hunters training week.
This situation is not new to Appo, who has been doing this in one form or another since primary school.
Other Hunters who have done the same by playing and studying have been Enoch Maki, Bland Abavu and Wartovo Puara Jr. Justin Olam graduated with a degree in physics from UniTech while with the Hunters in 2016.
Appo recalls the routine of prioritising school and sport as a habit which he developed in his East Goroka Primary School days and then onto Goroka Secondary School.
“I started balancing my rugby league and studies since I was going to school in Goroka,” Appo said.
“It’s not a new thing for me and I think it’s normal,” the second year science student said.
“I gave my school timetable to the Hunters management so when I have a morning class I make up for it in the afternoons and when I have afternoon class I do my training in the morning.
“Everyone around me is very supportive of my routine and I am very happy with that.
“I really want to do well in my studies and also with the Hunters and I have been blessed to come this far,” the second-rower said of his inclusion in the Hunters final squad.
“In rugby league every player dreams of making it to the top and I think being part of the Hunters squad this year is a goal that I’ve achieved.”
Appo admitted that making the Hunters squad for the 2019 season was not expected but he would keep learning and getting fit while he waited for a chance to play at some point during the season.
“In 2017 when I was in Grade 12 at Goroka Secondary I captained the Highlands Confederation to the national championships.
“Early last year, I was named in the Goroka Lahanis train-on squad but because I got accepted to study at UPNG and moved to Port Moresby, I joined the Vipers where I first played in the Digicel Cup.
“I didn’t think I would make it into the Hunters this year but I did and I am very happy about that,” he said.
Appo’s local heroes are former Lahanis Garnet Awo and Glen Nami, whom he first saw play in 2005 as a six-year-old when his father Jackson Appo was the Lahanis team manager.
“My interest in rugby league grew when my father was the Lahanis team manager, he took me with him wherever he went.”
By ISAAC LIRI