The National, Wednesday 03rd April 2013
DESPITE not playing against Fiji champions Ba, Samuel Kini hopes he will get a run on Saturday when Hekari meet Vanuatu champions Amicale in their second O League match at the Lloyd Robson Oval in Port Moresby.
Known to fans and his teammates as Eskay or SK, he is probably the only player from the highlands region playing football at this level – the OFC champions league.
From Balawi village, Erave, Southern Highlands, the quiet-spoken midfielder was plucked out of the Welgris Highlanders FC in the inaugural season of the National Soccer League in 2006 and is now plying his trade with Hekari.
He was among two other players in Koriak Upaiga and Ian Yanum who are playing for the national champions.
He is thankful to franchise owner John Kapi Natto and his wife Vonnye for giving him the opportunity to excel in his football career.
On joining Hekari, Kini was nervous because he was the only footballer from the highlands region. But as time went by, he continued to build a strong relationship with other players and began to socialise with them.
Kini has in one way or another played a part in Hekari qualifying for the FIFA Club World Cup in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in 2010 and remains loyal to the club since.
“We are a rugby league crazy people but we can play football and we can make a difference,” he said.
Right now, the 25-year-old will be concentrating on winning a spot for the game against Amicale.
He has been gracing the field for some time now after making his debut for the country at the OFC U23 Olympic Qualifiers in Lautoka, Fiji, in 2008.
If that was not enough he continued to convince selectors in making the national side, representing Papua New Guinea at several regional tournaments.
He made his recent appearance for PNG at the Nations Cup in Honiara, Solomon Islands, last year.
Without doubt Kini is capable of withstanding intense and pressurised football and he will be counting on this experience.
“Right now, I am ready and looking forward to the game,” he said.
“I am proud to be the first player from the highlands region playing in the champions league challenge,” Kini says.
“I thank the good Lord for giving him these skills and talent in football which I have continued to work on to make me one of the best soccer players in PNG.
For those from the highlands region intending to take up football, he said: “Nothing is impossible. We can play football when we put our hearts to it.
“But most importantly, humble yourself, respect others and put God first and you will be successful.”