By MELTON PAIS
ONE year has passed since the death of PNG Kumuls star Kato Ottio, but his legacy lives on.
Yesterday, the Koiari and Tatana communities, SP PNG Hunters players and coach Michael Marum, PNGRFL chief executive Reatau Rau and Motu-Koitabu Assembly chairman Dadi Toka Jr were all at Tatana village where Ottio is buried to commemorate the first anniversary of the former Canberra Raiders player who died after suffering from a heat stroke.
The first anniversary came with two surprises for Ottio’s mother Joyce.
First was the opening of a new house, which Ottio had made one of his life’s goals — of building his mother a home.
The home was built through the support of the Papua New Guinea Rugby Football League, the Widnes Vikings in England and the Raiders from Canberra, Australia as well as fans in the country.
The second was the presentation of Ottio’s headstone.
Emotional tributes were shared on social media by his teammates Kumuls and Hunters marking the anniversary of the death of a young man who had a bright future as a professional player.
“I can’t believe you left us so early and now it’s a year without you. Your memories will still be with me forever. RIP Kato,” said former Hunters captain and Kumuls teammate Ase Boas in a Facebook post.
Hunters chairman Graham Osborne described Ottio as a “great man” who drew the attention of fans in PNG, Australia and England.
Ottio’s skill, size and pace stood him out as a special talent and enabled him to endear him to fans who piched in to help his dream become a reality posthumously.
“We have never forgotten Kato,” Osborne said.
“Kato was not only a star for rugby league but also a star to his family and community as well.
“That is why we have all came here to commemorate the date that he left us.
“Kato left all of us, his families, club mates in Canberra, Hunters and Kumuls 12 months ago.”
PNGRFL CEO Rau thanked the people of PNG and Ottio’s fans abroad, for donations that had come in.
“His (Ottio’s) dream has come true now with a new house erected for his mum,” Rau said.
“It is a very emotional time for Kato’s mother and his immediate family and Motu Koita community as a whole,” Motu Koita Assembly chairman Dadi Toka Jr said.
“Building a house is one of those goals that late Kato and I am so thankful that PNG people and fans abroad managed to help the family achieve that goal,” Toka said.
“It’s a great loss to the family and country.
“It’s a sad occasion and it’s quite an emotional time because his death shocked and affected many of us,” he said.
By MELTON PAIS