Rugby league means more than money. It’s about pride, about clansmanship, about identity and, most importantly, it defines the passion of a thousand traditions.
Papua New Guineans love rugby league. The magnitude of their love of the sport can be measured by a paradoxical metric: property that has been destroyed and spectator violence that has brought this sport to the brink of a law and order crisis.
In sporting terms, the raw talent in PNG is always there, but lack of proper training facilities has hindered progress.
The PNG Kumuls is a team that not only represents the country but an icon which is seen as a symbol of unity, hope and national pride and freedom.
The Papua New Guinea Kumuls is an icon for nearly the entire population. And many people are following the PNG Kumuls quest in the Rugby League World Cup 2013 hosted by England and Wales.
People’s eyes were glued to their TV screens in the early hours of Monday morning (about 2am PNG time) to witness their beloved Kumuls go head to head against the French.
Everyone was filled with anticipation and pride and wanted to witness their national team win. Unfortunately, the high expectations were buried after the Kumuls could not deliver.
There was much promise, because the Kumuls brought in one of the best coaches in the world, Mal Meninga, as high performance manager; a guy responsible for bringing eight consecutive years of pain to New South Wales as his Queensland Maroons have totally dominated the Australian State Of Origin arena.
David Mead, the young lad from Tubuseraia, one of the Motuan villages, missed a penalty kick 20 metres out that totally broke Papua New Guinean hearts.
Many people were quick to their toes to criticise Mead. However, when you are playing a game with so much intensity and expectation, sometimes mistakes happen.
And so the Kumuls were beaten by the French by a mere one point, 8-9, which broke Papua New Guinean hearts.
Papua New Guineans are league-mad people. When there is success on the field, that is where you will see the passion, pride and spirit.
Now can my beloved Kumuls and David Mead bounce back with a big bang? Only time will tell. Go PNG. Go Kumuls