PNG celebrates Justin Olam’s spot in history
Tonight the Moon Carries Her Umbrella

Reflections on footy & the NRL grand final


PORT MORESBY - Rugby league in Australia (managed by the NRL) is a multi-billion dollar business that was well established and has grown from strength to strength over the last 10 years.

It is a potential career pathway for many young aspiring Australians who took up the code in early childhood, whether at school or through the numerous sports clubs that have youth development programs.

At present the national NRL competition consisted of 16 teams and hundreds of professional players, managers, coaches and other officials.

It has strong support – whether financial or material - from the Australian government, corporate sponsors, development partners and citizens.

As a result it is one of the strongest competitions in the world generating big returns in terms of money, investment, wellbeing, celebrity and national pride.

For a player to break through into the NRL is not easy and it requires not only talent but also self-discipline, commitment and sacrifice.

But once you make the grade in an NRL team, there are lucrative contracts and, for the best of the best, sponsorship deals.

Increasingly over recent years, we have seen gifted Papua New Guinean players like Markus Bai, David Mead and now Justin Olam and a few others who play in the English super league.

Papua New Guinea and some Pacific island countries are building the code professionally and exporting raw talent to Australia.

The statistics show that PNG has less indigenous representatives in the NRL compared to Fiji, Tonga and Samoa though we have quite a number of mixed race players who we are proud of.

The 2020 grand final just passed was not an ordinary game to the thousands of Papua New Guineans who cheered in front of their TV screens.

Lately I’ve read some people on social media bad-mouthing or challenging each other about Justin Olam’s place of origin.

Just my advice, we do not have to belittle our way of thinking.

Justin Olam happens to be from Chimbu, but it doesn’t matter at all which part of PNG he comes from.

The big thing is that he is the raw talent of our country Papua New Guinea and we all have to give him our support as one of us.

PNG is a proud country and we have to display nationalism and true sportsmanship.

And finally, special thanks to the Melbourne Storm club management which has given two indigenous Papua New Guineans, Bai and Olam, the opportunity to be part of a great team and a great club culture to fully enhance their potential in footy.

And also to inspire the generations who will come after them.

Dennis Uramani is a freelance writer


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JK Domyal

Thanks for this commentary.

It has has been long overdue in the rugby league world that PNGans played at the Australian national level. Whilst in the UK Super League many PNGans have played.

Many more have played in Super League in a far away land than with our next door neighbour. E.g., Stanley Gene, a Simbu village talent and also from SSY, where Justin Olam is from, is a UK household name in the super league. In the 1990s Aussie clubs did not pick him up so UK clubs picked him.

In the 1990s, PNG should have had more local talents in Aussie NRL clubs but due to some unknown factor we had none until Marcus Bai and some of our mixed parentage guns.

So many millions of kina in public funds were used to develop future NRL and Kumul players over the years but few were chosen.

Maybe the management or coaching was taking the wrong approach. Olam is now a shining example but millions of kina have already been wasted.

Something for PNGRFL to think about.

Philip Kai Morre

We do not have to compare players like Justin Olam or Markus Bai or others. They don't compete against each other.

Their skills, vision, insights and ideology are different and all players played at different times and in different conditions.

They all displayed good sportsmanship whether they won or lost. They represented ethics, values, culture, spirituality, politics and economics.

Justin Olam happens to be a Simbu but he belongs to PNG. We have to take pride and embrace sports which benefit many people.

Corney Korokan Alone

Thank you. Appreciate this article.

Congratulations Justin Olam. You are a champion and a pride of beloved, homeland Papua New Guinea. Continue to shine in that code.

We understand, that you may be expected to perform twice as best as any other in your team to win your spot in the game and may not receive the adulation you deserve but, know deep in your heart that no warrior champion has doubters around him too. You're cut from a warrior's cloth. Keep at it.

You are not only a sporting star but a smart and an educated son of Chief Kondom Agaundo and Grand Chief, Sir Michael Somare who can comfortably hold your own in any setting.
These elder statemen are believers and visionaries.

Let no one and nothing stop you or question your ability to lead and shine.

You have many youngsters who look at you as one of their role models."

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