By ROBINSON LEKA
IT was better late than never for the Vanapa Brown Rugby League competition after they completed their season on Dec 30, a day before the end of 2021.
Following a tough six months of competition, the league administration faced one of its toughest season’s with financial constraints and restrictions amid the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
However, a determined administration held grand finals for its three divisions at Hawick village last Thursday.
The league started its season at Goldie Barracks with teams fielded from surrounding communities and villages along the Brown River in Central’s Kairuku-Hiri.
Goldie Barracks served as the competition’s venue for the majority of the season, however, the finals were moved to Hawick village, two kilometres from the barracks.
The grand finals did not disappoint, with Kevata Raiders fullback Daniel Yoa bagging a match-winning try for the Raiders in extra time to beat Orokana Magpies 8-4.
Meanwhile, the women’s grand final saw Bisogo Vipers triumph 16-6 over favourites, Goldie Maganis. The player-of-the-match award went to winger Regina Dickson for scoring two of the Vipers’ three tries.
The A-grade grand final saw Nari Panthers edge Goldie Maganis 4-2.
Competition manager Patrick Imo told The National that the season started with 22 clubs which were split into pools across the men’s division and Under-20s.
The veteran Papua New Guinea Rugby Football League referee said there were delays in completing the season after restrictions imposed in the middle of the year due to Covid-19.
“We started the season with 22 teams each in the men’s and U20 divisions while there were 20 women’s sides,” he said.
“It was a big task, but we managed to get our season running by July.
“We’ve been fortunate enough to run matches for our competition.
“It was quite hard running a 13-week season from July because of the lockdowns and other restrictions we had with Covid-19 until October.
“Because of the big number of teams, we split each division into two pools and the top-eight from both pools entered the finals.
“We didn’t want to carry the finals into 2022 and we thought that if we kept holding off and rescheduling, the season would become a failed one.
“This year will have its own calendar and activities and we want to have a clean start.”
Meanwhile the league’s patron, Colonel Walter Enuma (retired), made special mention of the supporters and sponsors who were instrumental in completing the season.
“Clemence Kanau, the chairman of the National Gaming Control Board, played a big part in kicking off our season,” he said.
“He honoured his commitment to the competition when he came through with a K30,000 sponsorship that helped us complete our season.
“Our executives had a very hard time trying to put things together to run this season and I’d like to congratulate them for their perseverance and their efforts in making sure we had games for the young people in the community.
“We had a series of issues facing the competition and its operations, but the executives and administration kept the ball running and I was happy that we finished on a good note.
“Thanks to the hardworking match officials and teams for making sure we completed our regular season and finals.”
Colonel Enuma said the board and administration were now taking a short break before resuming duties to deliver the 2022 season which was scheduled to start in April.