BLESSED Independence Day greetings to all our rugby league family across Papua New Guinea and welcome to our 25th edition of the “Fulltime Reserve” column for this year, in our favourite rugby league newspaper, The National.
The PNG Rugby Football League and the rugby league family share with all the people of this country the pride and joy of celebrating this important occasion marking our unity and progress over the last 46 years.
We commemorate this important occasion in recognition and honour of the courage, convictions and aspirations of our forefathers which inspired them to conceive and birth a new united and sovereign nation. It is important also that we take time to reflect on our journey as a country over the last 46 years as we look to build on these experiences for a better future.
We appreciate that the journey of our young nation has been fraught with many challenges and tribulations as well as opportunities for peace and prosperity. We also acknowledge that our country and our people are better now because of these experiences and lessons and we are confident that we will continue to stand united to face the future.
Our rugby league family is proud that the brief history of our sport has been closely interwoven with the history and journey of our proud country and people.
Whilst the sport is a legacy of our colonial past, (as it was introduced to our people by the Australian colonialists in the early 1930s), the PNGRFL was incorporated as the sports peak governing body in the territory and joined the International Rugby League in 1974 during the period of self-government prior to independence.
Our iconic men’s national team, the PNG Kumuls led by captain Paul Chue played their first international against the touring England team in Port Moresby on July 6, 1975, which England won 40-12.
For a young country that was finding its way in trying to unite a uniquely diverse people of a thousand tribes and languages; our national team, the PNG Kumuls was the first national brand that rallied the people to unite as a nation behind a national team and take their rightful place in the world.
Since this first match, the close affinity between the sport and people of PNG has intricately grown and over the years rugby league has evolved to become firmly entrenched as our national sport and passion. In fact, PNG is the only country in the world to have rugby league as its national sport.
Rugby League and our national teams, the Kumuls, the Orchids and the Hunters have continued to inspire and unite our people. We are proud of the sport’s contribution to PNG over the last 46 years as a vehicle and tool for nation building, national development and international diplomacy.
We are also proud of our rich shared history and we look forward to continue inspiring and developing the next generation of great men and women on our shared journey to a brighter and prosperous future for our people and country.
Until next week, may the grace, love and care of our Good Lord be with you.