KELA KAPKORA SIL BOLKIN
John Kaputin played for the famous club in the days when rugby league was just starting to emerge as a national sport in Papua New Guinea and was still mostly played by white men.
Kaputin helped win the 1960’s grand final between the Kone Tigers and DCA played at the Papuan Rugby League ground near Boroko.
In the years that followed, the Kone Tigers Oval evolved into a modern rugby league ground with a club house, high wall fencing and polished green grass in the paddock. It was on an equal footing with the Boroko ground.
The Kone Tigers club was the glamour team and proud owner of the oval. In later years international and semi-professional inter-city cup matches were played there.
Then, on the threshold of the 21st century, the famous oval started to fall into disrepair. Wreckers were appointed to run the club and its assets. Gradually all the corrugated iron fencing was ripped down, the club house fell apart and scrub crept into the paddock.
The kleptomaniacs who managed the club saw fit to sell the oval to some Asians.
The legality of the sale has been contested in court but no one has any idea about the outcome.
Right now the once famous Kone Tigers Oval is a sex workers’ and drug addicts’ den.
It is also a public toilet used by street vendors and others who do petty business at the Waigani market. Every Tom, Dick and Harry now goes to the paddock and squats anywhere in the scrub to answer the call of nature.
The rain tree at the western end of the oval has been taken over by drug addicts. They congregate to smoke marijuana, drink ‘coffee punch’ (cheap liquor), watch pornography on mobile phones and intermittently walk to the eastern end of the oval to watch sex workers and their clients copulating (see photo).
Outside the western end of the oval is the large Waigani Market. The area between the oval and the market is used by 3,000 people every day for petty business.
While the market caters for people who sell garden produce the intervening area is used by the people who sell cordial, scones, hot dogs, Asian junk, betel nut and cigarettes.
There they do business under the scorching sun with the stench of the Waigani sewer in their nostrils.
When nature calls, they wander off to the Kone Tigers Oval. Likewise when lust calls they communicate through their mobile phones and meet up at the eastern end of the oval.
Relationships have developed while vending in this locality. Joking and gossip give birth to new extra marital relationships as well as other forms of relationship. The sellers are familiar with each other since they mostly come from the same province.
Last year a middle aged woman and an old man agreed to walk over to the eastern end of the oval. When the elderly man had finished he quickly zipped up his trousers and got up to leave.
The unsatisfied woman beseeched the old man to remain but when he walked off she chased him with a dagger and almost stabbed him to death before the drug addicts came to his rescue.
The woman angrily said in her vernacular that she had left her betel nut stall untended for some fun only to be denied it.
Just before Christmas, after a hard day’s work selling their goods another couple agreed to go for a quickie.
Instead of walking to the eastern end of the oval they decided to crawl into a patch of small scrub in front of the Waigani Stop and Shop supermarket at the southern end of the PNG Bible Translation Association building.
While they were busy a large crowd of street vendors and the public decided to circle the place for a better view. Some cheered them on while others threw sticks and stones at them.
A drug addict came along, struck a match and lit the surrounding shrubbery. It was a nightmare for the poor couple and they fled in disarray.
All very unsavoury you might say. I would respond by pointing out that if we don’t raise the matter in forums like this such social ills will continue to occur and sprout wherever people congregate and mingle.
The plight of women without restrooms and the openly visible sex industry are still major concerns in Port Moresby.
We beseech the National Capital District Commission to seriously look at public toilets, especially for women as well as discreet licensed brothels for those who engage in sex work.
The National Capital District Commission also needs to step in and renovate the Kone Tigers Oval and give it back to the stakeholders under a newly constituted Kone Tigers Club Board.
At the moment the Kone Tigers Club still participates in the Port Moresby Rugby League competition operating out of the mess described above.
The bulk of the current team and management are from one particular province and they communicate in the vernacular during training and playing and that alone keeps players from other parts of Papua New Guinea away.
It would be much better if the players and officials came from all parts of Papua New Guinea to play and manage the club.
Ah, PNG! A land of paradox!