Mala loves rugby

Mala Mark playing for Paga Panthers against Gabutu Dragons last year at the National Football Stadium. – Pictures
courtesy of
Mala Mark
Mala Mark with Joan Kuman a rugby league player (left) during the official launching for the ANZ PNG Palais 15s women’s rugby union team last month.

UPNG Journalism student
SHELVING school for rugby at an early age was never what her parents had planned for Mala Mark.
Mark, 22, from Mulitaka Village, Laiagam in Enga was so into her passion for rugby since grade nine that she had to postpone a stage in her learning to be fully committed to the game.
Mark said leaving school for the sake of rugby did not go down well with her parents and other relatives who were concerned about her education.
Mark started off her education at Mt Zion Elementary School in Western Highlands in 2004 and was was then sent to complete her primary education at Pis Pond Adventist Primary School in 2007. She graduated from grade eight and was qualified to further her studies.
In 2013, she did grade nine at Mt Hagen Secondary School where she first joined a sports club. She played with Gomis Bullets in Mt Hagen and played wing.
After competing year nine successfully, rugby and school became her priorities.
Despite the odds and criticisms from family and friends she managed to complete grade 10 in 2014 while still playing rugby.
She said her parents and family were not great fans of her sport therefore her interest in the game was least important in their priorities.
“When I first played with Gomis Bullets, my parents told me I was not fit for footy especially to represent PNG one day. I was told to stop playing rugby and get my head down to studying and going to college.
“They would warn me not to waste my time because rugby was not meant for women, which I totally doubted.
“Despite receiving a lot of negative ideas from people around me, I still had trust in myself that one day I would represent Papua New Guinea in women’s rugby league,” Mark said.
However, Mark eventually left school in 2014 and joined a team called Women Steelers where she played as the fullback and wing.
Away from her studies, she committed time and effort into the game to achieve her dreams.
Her dreams came true in 2014 when she was first selected to play in the national championship staged at Sir Ignatius Kilage Stadium in Lae.
She played wing for the Highlands Zone and also in the same year she played with three other clubs.
After the national championship in Lae, she was selected on the ‘probables and possibles’ team to play the curtain raiser to the Prime Minister’s 13 match between PNG and Australia at Kalabond Oval in Kokopo.
In sport you win some and you lose some but she believes every game is team work where she endures in keeping her focus on achieving better results in future games.
In 2015, Mark was recalled by Women Steelers and she spent the whole year with her former team.
After more intense training and commitment to the game she was finally selected for the PNG Orchids’ first ever test match staged at the National Football Stadium (NFS) in Port Moresby.
She said it was her debut for the national side in 2017 during PNG Women’s Rugby League against Australian Jilaroos. After the game, she was on the final selection for the World Cup held in Sydney.
In 2018, in a switch of codes, she was picked for the Oceania Cup with PNG Palais 15s and 7s held in Sydney. However, she did not play in the 7s due to injuries.
She said apart from the national and regional commitments she also plays in the Port Moresby off-season competition.
She has so far played for Hohola Flies, Brothers and Freeway Bumpers in the off-season games.
Mark has captained the Hohola Files in 2018 and was recently selected as a trainer for Freeway Bumpers this year.
Swithcing codes, Mark played wing for PNG Palais against New Zealand in the Oceania 15s championships that was staged at Churchchill Park in Lautoka, Fiji last month.
“One of my best ever achievements in women’s rugby league was in 2018 when I the set the record of scoring nine tries in one game.
“I am proud of representing my country and finally happy for achieving my dreams despites odds.”
Mark says she believes in herself and will continue to pursue her dreams in football and one day see herself in the women’s competition of the National Rugby League.

Councillor retires after 44 years

Councillor Mano in earlier days.
Councillor Mano Wipai (second from right) with after receiving a Queen’s award from former Governor-General Sir Paulias Matane.

SIR Mano Wipai, aged 80-plus years, has voluntarily retired from active service as a village councilor in the Erave LLG in Southern Highlands, drawing the curtain on a colourful 44-year career.
He hails from Pawabi Village in the Imawe Bogasi clan and has two wives, seven children and 29 grandchildren.
A formal event is being organised for his village this Christmas when he will declare his retirement from the local leadership. Community leaders and local level government agents will pay tribute and acknowledge his leadership from days of the Australian administration then transiting to self-government and independence .
Councillor Sir Mano has been elected unopposed and served in Erave LLG continuously. He had a unique leadership based on strong traditional and cultural values. He was very vocal, vibrant and a type of leader in his time whom no one in his community could easily replace.
He delivered many community projects with little funding from government mainly because he successfully mobilised communities to work for not cost to help themselves.
He was a vibrant leader full of action to drive local development initiatives and deliver most needed community services which are still used today. Evidence of work and legacy include mission schools, airstrips and roads linking Erave/Samberigi villages. The roads may improve if the much-speculated Gulf-SHP road is built and that may also pave the way for more changes to improve lives of people in the linked communities.
Sir Mano was also a strong advocate for oil and gas development in Gobe. In 1998 he was actively involved to officially open the first Gobe crude oil flow with all Gobe landowner leaders accompanying the then Mines and Petroleum Minister Masket Iangalio.
In the year 2000 he accompanied the Department of Petroleum and Energy representatives and Oil Search Ltd senior officers to Queensland Australia, for pre-negotiations of the PNG LNG off-shore project.
The ceremony planned for Dec 21 this year is to acknowledge the work of this great leader and pay tribute to his services to the community.
People are expected to come from all over Erave district and neighbouring Kagua including provincial government and oil and gas industry representatives.
Sir Mano is proud that he has truly served his people without fame and wealth. His self-help community projects worth millions of kina in today’s terms are a challenge to leaders today to match or better.
He appeals to Southern highlands government to favorably consider his claim for entitlements for services to the people as a ward councilor in the Erave LLG for 44 years as he truly deserves that.
Sir Mano Wipai will formally declare his retirement before his people and openly release his blessing to the young leader taking his place.