The curious affair of ONGU: A study in public confusion
My clan, my custom



PAEA Hiki’s dream of playing for the Kulf Mesiri team is almost impossible.

“That man is one idiot” Paea hisses after training flicking his head towards the coach. “He is always one side and picking boys from his street only”

Johnny Poi, a recent graduate from University is already tired of the usual complains but for some, like his childhood friend Paea, the topic was like the Buai ban in Moresby - It is a law that has little effect!

The boys play in the Tora Ipi off season competition vying for the Mesiri’s in the intercity competition. Paea, short, stocky, is built for the forward pack while Johnny, a typical Gulf lad - tall, slim, has various roles in the backline.

Both felt they made an invaluable part of the team since they live near the oval and have to take the team training gears back home after each session. But there seemed to be glitch. Despite diligently showing the discipline and commitment asked for by the management it is hard making the team.

There seemed a lot of favouritism involved and the team management is more interested in the privileges of setting up a team rather than making the team successful in the competition.

For years the team has changed coaches, players have gone in and out and have never won a premiership. Consistency lacks in the team and simply, the team is far from achieving the objectives it was initially set up for.

The boys have many reasons for wanting to join the team but as unemployed youths without a job, this is an avenue for them to flourish and be part of society rather than be categorized as a ‘dry branch’.

In a time when Sports in the country is leaning more towards its commercialization along with the government of the day pumping funds like never before, this is a window of opportunity for success.

“Oh we go join another team uh?” Paea offers.

“Eh you think you are smart uh? You think they know you and easy ones you’ll go in uh?” Johnny scoffs.

“ssshhh...I’m not lying. I know how”

“eh koikoi momokani!” Johnny waves him off.

“You remember that guy that writes for the newspaper” Paea pauses while looking for a glint of recognition from Johnny eyes.

“That guy is one right man honest.” Paea continues. “He has all the contacts for all the intercity teams. We just tell him and he will ring the team coach and there.”

Johnny avoids letting that piece of information excite him.

“ei you sure this brother is telling the truth? Maybe he is just talking like that because he wants to show off”

Paea takes none of it. “and you expecting what? You Darren Lockyer and teams will come looking for you to play for them uh? This brother is one right man. We just organize one lunch money or smoke and buai money and finish. Your story is back page ya fraah back page!”

Johnny looks at his friend with dismay, feeling anger welling up in him of how others like him are being used and discarded like food wrapping because of their ignorance.

“Back page?! What will a back page story do?! Read between the lines my friend. The bosses are more concerned of their stomach these days. Your back page story will indirectly tell everyone that everything in the team is going okay when it’s not.

“The coach will talk about getting a winning team but in his mind he doesn’t want to disappoint his ‘own’ boys. This is PNG. We can say we are developed but only in words not in action”

Paea for the first time that afternoon has nothing to reply as Johnny continues.

“Our only hope is Mesiri. They know us and we know them. This one is easy access because chairman ya he is one beer bel like your namesake uncle peksy at hohola number four. We just buy one six for peksy and tell him to mastermind chairman.”

“Eh just now you talking about this one-side pasin and what are you saying? you too one con man”

“Eh mekakare you listen first. These days organizers go to big companies and tell them that youths in their place are unemployed and always getting into trouble. And you know companies too they want to market their products so they will just say okay and give big money to the organizer.

“When the organizers get the money is they will say, eh, we hard work to walk in the sun and sleep late in the night to get this money. These others are just relaxing and doing nothing and expecting us to do all the work. We get half and half we give it to them. They are what kind of people and they will just relax and we do all the hard work?”

Paea feels as if the end of the road has come up much sooner than he had expected but suddenly feels a moment of determination.

“That’s okay. Let the organizers do what they do. I’m gonna do what my heart tells me. I might not get selected but at least I’m doing what I love the most”

Johnny shakes his head in disbelief but knows, it takes heart for one to go further when the mind refuses to go on.


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