The Crocodile Prize & how to organise in PNG
27 February 2019
LAE - As an unemployed graduate of the “premier university of the South Pacific”, I was asked to lead a youth touch-rugby club along with some of my peers who were also otherwise unoccupied.
We ran the club for six years without sponsorship, at my insistence as the president.
I did not want someone from outside our home fucking us over because they gave us some koble, especially not politicians who wanted in on the publicised kudos on our best effort.
It was intriguing to me why the youth had chosen me as their team leader in the first place, since I was hardly the most out-going person around. I am reclusive and prefer me that way.
I was told simply that they trusted me to get the job done for them and not fuck it up. That was alright by me, so I stepped up to the plate. Thankfully other guys and gals stepped up too.
My one concern was that I had absolutely no idea how to run a youth organisation, let alone start one.
But the others in my band-of-brothers and sisters had a better idea how to do that stuff, so we gathered our executives and supporters, made our plans and headed off into the bright, blue horizon of achievement.
It was challenging and rewarding because it took everyone’s effort, the teams, the players, their parents and friends, and a large portion of the university community to boot.
After two years of struggle the flame caught alight and we charged on taking all bumps and bruises. Most days I did almost nothing except be around to put in a few well-timed words.
The players in their teams, and with their supporters, organized and accomplished almost everything that mattered for the games to be a success. They made me look good.
Every team had their colours and ‘club houses’. The players kept the field fit for purpose. The funds raising drives were well arranged and supported. Cash funds were kept secure and used appropriately.
Player conflicts were resolved and player misconduct on and off the field was suitably managed. We even had to pacify parent conflicts during the matches.
Friends, I can tell you, ‘ol PNG mama ino save isi long sapot!’
Every year we managed to award K1,000 grand prize, K500 runner-up, K500 premiers, a shield and trophy and every other award we could imagine in competition; man-of-the-match, player of the year, rookie of the year, best and fairest, you name it. We even threw in a free feed for all after the grand finale.
We all but flat-lined the account and started every season with K200. (These guys even started a second competition for Christmas break and called it the Presidents Cup. And it was just that, a massive silver cup that took two stubbies to fill – I know).
Every new year we held fresh elections. I stepped off the plate with my executives and took a side-seat while the club members made their election decisions. Every year we were all unanimously voted back.
Apparently, the struggle of doing all that stuff on our own was worth it. They wanted more of the same. And better!
That’s all personal history for us now, but one of the best stories coming out of that whole adventure is worth emphasizing because it goes to the heart of what we achieved and why. The story was about the other city youth.
Youth from as far across the city as Kaugere and Gerehu Stage Six, and everywhere in between, would make their way over to our patch of Waigani to watch our matches on the weekends.
They walked both ways if they didn’t have the bus fare. They came to enjoy the lively games and ogle at the girls.
Well, that too since we also had a girl’s volley-ball competition going. But mostly they came to be entertained by the whole wonderful event that was 100% owned and run by other youths, much like themselves.
Unemployed, unoccupied and bored, underrated and unrewarded, unaccomplished and hoping for something better in life, hoping to do something, to be someone, to be recognized, to have something as intangible as a dream – and then to make it real.
The University Mumuts Touch-Rugby Football Club belonged to us.
It sure as hell was not easy but we kept our trust and faith in each other. We kept it real for ourselves and, in that way, we made it real for them too. We showed them our hope and unity. We gave them something valuable – another possibility.
Today I feel the same way about the Crocodile Prize. I also find myself in the same situation when thinking about the chairmanship role.
I have little personal desire to step into the lead role and neither have the savvy of how to go about arranging the whole thing anyhow. There are other friends and colleagues who can do a much better job. I want to be part of that team.
While it is not realistic for the Crocodile Prize to be run the same way as my old touch-rugby club the gist of that story remains nourishing.
The gist is to make the Crocodile Prize yours, own it entirely, and then give it back; make it ours.
Hope and unity. Nothing can stop us when we have that, especially not the lack of koble.
"People do not lack strength,they lack will" - Victor Hugo as recorded in Storms of Perfection, volume 2 by Andy Andrews published in 1994.
Lets do this Michael, enough hands have been raised.
Posted by: Daniel Kumbon | 01 March 2019 at 08:57 AM
One man can accomplish anything once he realize he is a part of something bigger. And when you have a team of like-minded people, you can change the world.
Let's do this Michael! Keep the literary flames burning!
Posted by: Jordan Dean | 28 February 2019 at 12:18 PM
It's more about what young people are enjoying, participating in an activity that provides a sense of accomplishment, the recognition of their peers, enjoying a relatively free activity, and being part of a forward moving organization.
There are commonalities between my former touch rugby club and the Crocodile Prize in that manner.
Youth and writers don't need to be concerned about literature and the "national cause" in just the same way as the enjoyment of touch rugby does not concern itself entirely with Sam Thaiday and the NRL mania.
Posted by: Michael Dom | 27 February 2019 at 12:53 PM
That's an interesting analogy but you might have had an advantage there with PNG being mad about rugby.
I'm not sure PNG is very mad about literature. That's a hurdle that has still to be overcome.
But you're not talking about that, you're talking about organisation and cooperation and my preferred style of leadership from the back.
I wonder whether Sam Thaiday could be convinced to talk about books instead of bloody coal.
Posted by: Philip Fitzpatrick | 27 February 2019 at 09:29 AM
Well said and well done, Doc. I've no doubt that, with the support of the many who have offered to help, you will succeed in the same fashion as before.
You could, perhaps, institute an ancillary prize for children's writing: the Mumut Prize!
Posted by: Ed Brumby | 27 February 2019 at 06:55 AM