Initiative keeping youths busy

Team Purple captain Morea Toua in action against Team White.
– Nationalpics by ROBINSON LEKA

WHILE Hanuabada has established itself as a big and populous village, there is a worrying trend among youths there which is undermining their identity and sense of belonging.
For a traditional village, there is cause for concern but the people of Nese, Hanuabada, have taken the initiative to help community members re-connect with their identity through sports.
The Nese Koupa Volleyball Association is helping bring about changes among the youths as they continue to develop a deeper understanding of their ties.
Club Purple said their sense of purpose and identity through the game had refreshed their outlook on sports, family and the future.
“The competition has created a network among people involved in the sport,” club manager Ikupu Naime said.
“We used to keep to our own circles, but that has now changed – almost everyone is now familiar with each other.
“We see each other, we are open and we all know who we are.
“We have relatives who we know but don’t know their children.
“It’s initiatives like the competition that help us connect names to faces.
“The area where we have competition is called ‘Nese’, it’s the name of our clan inside Hanuabada.
“Since the competition was introduced three years ago (2018), it was intended for everyone in the Nese clan.
“But other clans and surrounding communities were also invited to come and play.
“Previously, we always had a Nese team in the Poreporena Volleyball Association competition.
“So at the time, we would get together as a clan and field a team.
“The population in the village has grown bigger over the years so we’ve decided to organise games under the Nese association to get everyone involved.”
Naime, who has experience as a supervisor for Cricket Papua New Guinea’s Liklik Kriket programme, said the competition had prompted positive changes in their way of living. “One important thing that has come out of this association is the way our competition disciplines youths in our clan,” he said.
“Since games have become a usual thing now in our area, there are rules and curfews that everyone has agreed to follow to avoid interrupting our matches the next day.
“There are also penalties for people found to be breaching rules like drinking and fighting, so this encourages good behaviour among our youths.
“The men and women in our club aren’t strangers, we’re all related and we grew up alongside each other.
“Most of our players are either in school or are unemployed and it’s hard for most of them who are growing up here, so we want to give something for them to look forward and instil discipline.
“The mentality of the young people here is, once you complete high school, you go back home and do nothing.
“This has become a problem in the village and it’s something that we can only hope young people will realise and move away from if they want to make something out of their lives.”
Team captain Morea Toua said the initiative had seen an improvement in the lives of the youths taking part.
“They’re turning down our volume after 11pm on the weekends and avoiding things like beer and helping their neighbours,” he said.
“We’re seeing changes in things like time management and bad behaviour.
Yes, a good number of boys are known to be regular drinkers.
“But since the start of the competition, we can see that there has been low alcohol consumption.”
With the country observing the national Covid-19 isolation period, Toua said: “Students are back home and people living in the village are also mindful of what’s happening.
“But surprisingly, the rules of our competition has restricted movement because there are games going on.”