By ZACHERY PER
YOUNG Kevin Appo, the youngest son of one of the Highland’s rugby league greats Jackson Appo is taking on from where his father has left off in the game. Metaphorically speaking, the young lad is now shod in the rugby boots his father hung up in the mid-80s, and is taking the Sir Danny Leahy rugby league grounds as a forward, playing for Lovisa Brothers in the Goroka Rugby League competition, by storm.
His no nonsense play and blockbusting runs has quickly caught the eyes of local selectors, taking him into the representative Goroka side on many occasions.
While a grade 12 student last year,Appo, whose parents are from Dinga in Chimbu and Seigu in Goroka Eastern Highlands, performed outstandingly in the Goroka schoolboys rugby league competition.
Furthermore, Highlands Zone selectors identified Kevin’s potential and elevated him to captain the Highlands Zone for the inter-zone trials in Lae last year. A Mendi Muruks scouting team even approached him during the trials seeking to recruit him for this season’s Digicel Cup competition.
The young Appo has played overseas as part of a rugby league team from Goroka that toured areas of Australia for friendly matches against clubs in Sydney, Canberra, Waga Waga, Penrith, Gold Coast and Brisbane.
Whilst there, the Goroka team also played select sides in New South Wales. Appo rose to the occasion and was pronounced the best and fairest player of the tournament by his local league.
During the matches in Australia, his smart playing antics caught the eye of Naruma Devils Rugby League, a local feeder club in Sydney which was keen to on sign him on. Just recently, Bintangor Lahanis selectors have also named him on their train-on squad for this season.
But the guy in high demand also has other things on his mind. Appo has been selected to do Science Foundation at the University of PNG this year and has had to make a huge decision between the game he loves, and studies which will equip him for life.
With the help of his dad and family members, he has decided on the latter.
By taking up university study, Appo is making another of his father’s dream come true. His old man Jackson is the Eastern Highlands provincial disease controller whose greatest desire is to see his son become a medical doctor.
“This is a step closer to our dream for Kevin to take up medicine,”the senior Appo said.
He also confessed to his longtime dream for one of his seven sons to wear the white,blue and red Lahani colours.
“Kevin made me proud when he was named in the Goroka Lahani’s train on squad for the 2018 Digicel Cup season.”
While his son has opted to leave rugby league aside for the moment, his dad is sure of his son’s return to the paddock as a professional player after uni studies.
“Paga Panthers rugby league club in Port Moresby is my favorite club, Kevin can join them if he wants to have a game in Port Moresby while studying,” he suggested.
“I remember Paga Panthers greats like John Wagambie, Mahuru Tore, Simon Sak, Bill Philips, Kelly Naru and the list goes on, and it is a club that I’d like my son to consider.”
For young Kevin Appo, it was a surprise when the sponsors of his local league club in Goroka,Lovisa Brothers took time out to farewell him at the Goroka airport last Saturday as he was leaving for Port Moresby.
The club’s Head Coach Lawrence Tatsim, trainer Peter Warlock and senior player Bernard Tatsimwent there to present the second rower with his number 11 jerseys to keep as souvenirs.
“When you return to Goroka after your schooling life in Port Moresby, Lovisa Brothers club will always welcome youback into the team to play,” Tatsim said. The boy after his father’s own heart promised to promote his local club during his time in the national capital.
Appo is indeed a chip off the old block.
By ZACHERY PER