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