TO be honoured with the most prestigious award of the Indian Rim Asian University Games – The Spirit of the Games – is testimony to the determination of a team of young rugby boys who defied all odds to attend the competition in Perth, Western Australia, last December.
The University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) Poroman 7s side was also given the most improved team award.
The side also had one of their players scoring the most tries in the tournament but it is yet to be confirmed.
The team, led by manager Devan Kula and captain Philip Chan presented their awards to the vice-chancellor Professor Ross Hynes as a testimony to future players that the impossible can be achieved.
The Poroman 7s performed remarkably considering there were only seven players and without a coach.
They had financial constraints and continued to play with an injured captain until replaced by the manager.
They won five of their seven matches to make the finals, but lost the match against Curtin University for a spot in the grand final.
They again lost in the bronze playoff to finish fourth out of eight teams.
In commending the boys for their efforts, Prof Hynes said they showed real guts to strive on despite going into the competition as underdogs.
He said the discipline and skills displayed during the competition showed they could also strive on in life.
“It showed your commitment. UPNG is proud of you for a job well done,” he said.
Coach Soiait Williams, on behalf of the boys, thanked their sponsors for assistance with finance and in kind – UPNG, Telikom, MRA, NGCB and Motor Vehicle Insurance Limited (MVIL).
They also extended their gratitude to the PNG community in Perth for assisting with accommodation and meals during their stay.