The National, Monday October 14th, 2013
By LUKE COX
ON Saturday I caught up with the Kumuls at the PRL in Port Moresby as they started their last training session before heading out to the wet and windy shores of the United Kingdom to take part in one of their biggest challenges – the 2013 Rugby League World Cup.
Often when reporting about the national team, we hear about what happened during the game, and the view from the sidelines but how many of us can say they know about the players who are going to be representing the country on the global stage?
What is their history? Where did it all begin for them and what are their hopes and fears for what lies ahead?
Following their final gruelling training session before heading overseas, I spoke with one talented player in Dion Aiye.
Aiye, 23, shared his thoughts. Born in Mount Hagen, Aiye has been living in Kokopo for the past four years, and while he is not married, he does have a special girl in his life.
First picking up a rugby ball in his primary school, Aiye began competing in a few local competitions by the time he reached his teens in Hagen before playing with the Hagen Eagles for almost three years.
Following school he went onto study at the Kokopo Business College in Rabual and maintained his love of the game by playing with the Gurias.
He is now is playing in the team that he claims is the best – the Kumuls.
Aiye said the training build-up for the World Cup had been intense, training for two hours every morning and two hours every afternoon.
The training is mixed up to give variety and stress every single muscle group, from drill training on the field, to shadow boxing and weight training to build muscle mass.
Aiye said the word “team” means everything to him.
“We are all boys from different clubs and we have come together to represent our country to do the very best we can,” he said.
“The Kumuls work so well together because of our bonding and we have a strong essence of brotherhood between us.”
One of his proudest achievements has been to make it into the World Cup.
But conversely he said he knew seven million Papua New Guineans were going to have their eyes on all of them.
“Pinning their hopes and dreams on us as a team is quite a daunting prospect,” he said.
“However, we have trained hard and I think we are ready for what lies ahead in Europe”.
From the balmy 30 degree temperatures of PNG to barely 14 degrees and high chances of rain is going to be challenges for Aiye and all of his teammates.
However, he said, even though he had never been to England he was ready for that additional challenge .
For the World Cup, Aiye has been chosen by his coaches as a backrower and he said he believed they had seen some potential in him and he hoped to do both them, and the country proud, although with New Zealand in their pool they are bracing themselves for a fight ahead.
The country can only wish the Kumuls the very best of luck for the Rugby League World Cup, an event that is going to be on the minds of all Papua New Guineans in the weeks ahead.