ExxonMobil reports that PNG LNG Kumuls and Hunters coach Michael Marum, NRL manager and former PNG Orchids captain Cathy Neap, and Hunters players William Mone from Hela and Stanton Albert from Southern Highlands spent a day in Komo providing support and encouragement to young men and women who have reinvigorated rugby league to promote peace and unity in their community.
Hela Province has been a region plagued by clan fighting in recent times.
"The desire by youth leaders in Komo to put aside weapons and pick up the ball has led to the formation of the Komo Rugby League Football Association with 18 teams, 10 men's, six women's and two children's, competing in the Highlands regional competition in 2019. This is the first time women's teams have ever competed in the area. Traditional rivalries are now being played out on the field in the spirit of sportsmanship," ExxonMobil said.
The company says the visit delivered a major boost to the players and youth leaders and coincided with the Association's selection for the Highlands Zone Trials which will be held sometime in June.
Before kick-off Mone and Albert conducted a coaching session for the two teams while the women's players were inspired by Neap's words of encouragement. The next generation did not miss out with Coach Marum taking some very excited children through ball exercises.
Not even torrential Highland's rain could dampen the enthusiasm of players and spectators.
Marum commended the community saying it was a great step that the people in the area had taken to put down their arms and take part in rugby. "The game of rugby is not just for the young men and women only, but it is also for the older people as well. You can be part of the sport by being the team manager or assist women in their training," Marum said.
Neap encouraged the women: "It doesn't matter what people say, if you set your mind to become a rugby player, doctor, pilot or engineer, then you can achieve it. All this is going to happen if you are persistent and committed to your goals and dreams."
The visit to Komo was facilitated by the PNG LNG project who is a major sponsor of rugby league at a national level. ExxonMobil's Kim Hahn said: "We are truly inspired by the initiative to bring unity through sport led entirely by youth in Komo. We are all becoming much closer as a community because of their efforts."
Komo Rugby League Association president Edwin Morris thanked ExxonMobil PNG for their help. "We are thankful to the Hunters and Cathy Neap for encouraging our players and for sharing their skills with the young players who have chosen to put down their weapons and play rugby," Morris said.