By BURI GABI
PAPUA New Guinea has enjoyed a year of success in the sporting arena with few memorable moments to treasure for many years to come.
There are a number of sports that have had something to celebrate and we would like to start off with rugby league, a sport many on the international scene would consider as PNG’s national sport.
The pride of the country, the Telikom PNG Kumuls dominated the Pacific Cup in Port Moresby in October winning convincingly, despite being written off by rugby league giants Australia, England and New Zealand.
Tonga led by Parramatta Eels lock Feleti Mateo became Kumuls’ list of victims when they belted them 44-16.
Kumuls, inspired by international exports David Mead, Menzie Yere, Charlie Wabo and other England and Australian-based players, with local heroes, Jessie Joe, George Moni and rampaging Rodney Pora went on to thrash surprise package Cook Islands 42-16.
It will be another big challenge for the Kumuls after qualifying for next year’s four nation’s series when they face off with super powers England, Australia and New Zealand.
The road to the pinnacle of rugby league is not easy for our men but it is surely an achievement, including winning the hearts of Papua New Guineans within and abroad.
In the semi-professional rugby league challenge, the pride of New Guinea Islands region NGIP Agmark Gurias walked out champions for this year’s bemobile Cup after defeating a fired-up Toyota Enga Mioks in the grand final.
Another achievement of the year saw the Papua New Guinea’s super fish and the world’s eighth-ranked swimmer Ryan Pini named the South Pacific Sportsman of the year.
Pini is also a great sportsman who has put PNG on the world map in the sports of swimming.
Our cricketers also did a marvelous job this year at the senior and junior male categories and the ladies also recorded best results.
The appointment of Cricket PNG’s new general manager Billy Leane demonstrated significant opportunity available for local cricketers to be internationally recognised and reach their pinnacle of world sports in men’s, women’s and U19 categories.
Leane said the appointment was the most important ingredient in PNG’s quest to qualify for the Cricket World Cup in 2015.
More importantly, it would develop our local coaches so that we can demonstrate sporting excellence for many years to come.
Like any other sporting codes in PNG, rugby union achieved some of its goals under the chairmanship of newly-elected Richard Sapias, taking over from long-time chairman Graham Osborne.
The code saw growth and improvement in the junior and senior divisions with the international matches in the 15s and sevens under the leadership of Fijian maestro Waisale Serevi.
The trip by the U19 boys to Kenya this year, saw them qualifying for the junior World Cup trophy which will be played in Moscow early next year.
While in the senior category in the international scene, PNG took the Oceania Cup.
In the sevens category, our boys are making inroads to re-enter the sevens in the IRB circuit.
PNG was again put on the world map in the sport of powerlifting with young Dobi Mea from Central province, snatching gold in the 44kg category in the Sub Junior World powerlifting championships in Brazil.
The young 18-year-old girl from Porebada collected three medals at this meet, gold in squat, silver in jerk and gold medal in total, contributing to the dozen of PNG’s success stories.
The highlight of the year was the successful hosting of the 4th PNG Games in Port Moresby, with well over 7,000 athletes from 19 provinces coming to compete in various sports.
Special performances were put up by our very own disable athletes, who had travelled all the way from remote parts of PNG to participate in the games.
National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop told the athletes it was a sneak preview of the South Pacific Games which will be hosted by PNG in 2015.
And the success year in sports is the PNG Bid team’s efforts to convince the South Pacific Games Council members to win the favour for PNG to host the games.
Sports unite everyone in PNG and abroad, regardless of different ethnic tribes, religion, race, colour, political and cultural differences.
Once again 2009 was a year filled with success stories after overcoming many challenges.