The National Monday, December 13, 2010
By MALUM NALU in Lae
FORMER Kumul rugby league captain John Wilshere was a big hit in Lae over the weekend in the lead-up to the inaugural Ahi Festival which he officially opened at the Sir Ignatius Kilage Stadium yesterday.
Wilshere, who is an Ahi from Butibam village, is the ambassador of the festival.
He got the ball rolling by leading a 20-strong motorcade through pothole and crime-infested Lae to promote the festival last Friday and continued his tour-de-force the next day with a visit to each of the six Ahi villages – Yalu, Kamkumung, Hengali, Butibam, Yanga and seaside Wagang – to present them their uniforms and sporting equipment.
It was just in time for Christmas as Wilshere put smiles on the faces of the Ahi people.
The festival, a weeklong extravaganza of Ahi sports and culture including a Miss Ahi pageant, begins today.
Wilshere was accompanied by key organisers including Riback Stevedores operations manager George Gware and games coordinator, former champion sportsman Bob Aaron.
He was feted like royalty at each of the six villages, who laid out the red carpet and welcomed him with traditional song and dance, and plied him with gifts.
Wilshere’s message at each of the villages was “nothing was impossible with discipline, hard work and commitment”.
“I ask that you all play fair and may the best team won!” he said.
The festival, the first of its kind, is aimed at promoting Ahi culture, unity, social issue awareness and local talent in sport, music and business.
Proceeds of the festival will go towards building a resource centre to be known as Ahi Resource Centre which would have a library, computer laboratory and conference room and workshop facilities.