Sport & Leisure Feed

England cricketer's ugly outburst a racist slur

| Come the Revolution

Authr and journalist Akex Mkychell O(Scott Powick)
Author, journalist and acclaimed political observer, Alex Mitchell (Scott Powick)

Prologue by Keith Jackson

NOOSA - Was the recent on-field cricket incident involving England fast bowler Ollie Robinson, just a display of extraordinarily bad manners or the product of barely disguised racism?

Alex Mitchell certainly brought to life my own thoughts about the matter in constructing a fine narrative that builds a case for the latter.

I'd believe our Papua New Guinean readers would have something to say about this.

Continue reading "England cricketer's ugly outburst a racist slur" »

Beautiful outriggers set sail for the Solomons

NOCC members lift canoes to start the journey to the Solomons
Noosa canoeists lift one of the outriggers to start their journey to a new life in the Solomons (Noosa Today)


NOOSA - Chaplin Park, home base for the Noosa Outrigger Canoe Club, was a busy riverside greensward last week as club members loaded and farewelled two canoes bound for the Solomon Islands.

It seems a bit like taking coal to Newcastle or coconuts to Kokopo, but these sleek racing lovelies are as rare as rocking horse poo in the Solomons, which is looking to build the sport of competitive outrigger canoeing.

Continue reading "Beautiful outriggers set sail for the Solomons" »

Remembering footie, politics & John Kaputin

Sir John Kaputin's plaque in the PNG Sports Hall of Fame. The distinguished politician and diplomat was a champion athlete and footballer


BARDON, BRISBANE, QLD - I hope readers of PNG Attitude will be able to help me get in touch with Sir John Kaputin, who I understand lives on the southside of Brisbane.

Sir John and I have a bit of history. In 1960, when I spent my third year as a Patrol Officer based in Madang, I played rugby league.

Continue reading "Remembering footie, politics & John Kaputin" »

Entertainment as we knew it in olden times

Cricket in Mt Hagen in the 1960s (Cliff Melvin Rok)
Cricket in Mt Hagen in the 1960s (Cliff Melvin Rok)


TUMBY BAY - Entertainment is a huge industry, especially in affluent countries like Australia.

In Australia, up-to-the-minute movies are streamed onto gigantic, ultra-high-definition television screens.

And music is downloaded from the web instantaneously, to be played on sound systems with a quality almost beyond reality.

Continue reading "Entertainment as we knew it in olden times" »

Somehow our timid democracy trundles on

Asian Cup football final at Stadium Australia, 2015 - sport is a great comforter for Australians who feel the world has gone awry (Austadiums)


ADELAIDE - Even though any objective survey of modern Australian politics leads to despondency, we should bear in mind that the two biggest spending political parties performed rather badly at the last election.

Also, perhaps we should bear in mind that spending by our political parties is dwarfed by the colossal sums spent in the USA, where money doesn't just talk, it positively shrieks.

Continue reading "Somehow our timid democracy trundles on" »

Wau Kik: Playing football the PNG hard way

Wau Kik was popular sport with few rules and those who witnessed or took part related anecdotes of players who were feared and respected because of their viciousness at the prime strategy of kicking the bare legs and feet of opponents

Sigimet - football PNG v Solomons
A football match between Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands


DAGUA - Football or soccer is a popular sport in Papua New Guinea, said by the PNG Football Association to have been introduced by German Lutheran missionaries in Morobe Province in 1884.

The first record of an organised local football competition was on the goldfields of Wau and Bulolo in that province.

Continue reading "Wau Kik: Playing football the PNG hard way" »

A true PNG champion bows out with gratitude

The former Kumuls captain made 14 appearances for PNG and 171 in the NRL for Brisbane Broncos and Gold Coast Titans and is admired both for his playing skill and his leadership on and off the field

Mead top

| Twitter @davidmead411

TWITTER - After weeks of thinking about it I have decided to retire from playing rugby league effective immediately.

I want to say a big thank you to the Brisbane Broncos, Gold Coast Titans, Catalan Dragons, National Rugby League and Super League Europe.

Continue reading "A true PNG champion bows out with gratitude" »

Junior Raka: In the footsteps of the great

Martin Beni died last November while officiating at boxing championships in Port Moresby. It's been left to middleweight Junior Kauko Raka to carry forward Beni’s vision. He feels the old champion’s spirit at his back whenever he fights

Junior headshot top
Junior Raka - a world class boxer walking in the footsteps of the great Martin Beni


NOOSA – The best Papua New Guinean boxer to emerge since Martin Beni 50 years ago departs PNG at the end of this month for bouts in the Philippines and Vietnam.

Beni had decided to return from retirement in 2018 to train lightweight boxer Junior Kauko Raka from the Bali-Vitu Islands in West New Britain Province.

Continue reading "Junior Raka: In the footsteps of the great" »

Australia must back PNG’s bid for an NRL team

Stanley Tepend
Stanley Tepend was today appointed coach of the PNG Kumuls rugby league team replacing long-time coach Michael Marum

| Sydney Morning Herald

SYDNEY - In late March, the details of a security deal between the Solomon Islands and China were leaked, sending shockwaves through the Pacific region.

A month later, the Papua New Guinea government launched a bid to enter a team in the Australian national rugby league.

Continue reading "Australia must back PNG’s bid for an NRL team" »

Home & away: fragments from an old photo

Turner scan0017
John J Murphy - district commissioner, war hero falsely accused, lexicographer and author


PORT MACQUARIE, NSW - I was far from a star player when I ran out for Kone Tigers in the early sixties. I really just made up the numbers, so I don’t deserve a star billing.

When the Papua versus New Guinea rugby league teams were selected, I thought I might be an outside chance of maybe making the seconds.

Continue reading "Home & away: fragments from an old photo" »

How PNG rugby league routed racism

Stanley Gene
Stanley Gene blasts through the pack (Love Rugby League)


When Dr Clarrie Burke died in January 2019, there was an outpouring of grief in Papua New Guinea and Australia for a man who spent his life “in the service of educating and uplifting others”, as one PNG Attitude reader wrote. This article was published in September 2012 in Una Voce, the journal of the PNG Association of Australia (since renamed Kundu), titled ‘The times they began a’changing’ - KJ

BRISBANE - The time: 3 pm; date: August 14; year: 1960.

Anyone living in or visiting Port Moresby in the hours leading up to that time would have reckoned with the endless unbroken lines of cars and swollen streams of ‘native’* people on foot being directed by traffic police from both sides of Hubert Murray Highway into Lahara Avenue.

Continue reading "How PNG rugby league routed racism" »

Hard men of Papuan rugby league (cont)


PORT MACQUARIE – I came across ‘The hard men of the Papuan rugby league, a brief memoir PNG Attitude ran in 2007 and it locked me into 20 minutes of going down memory lane reflecting on rugby league in Port Moresby in the 1960s.

I played for Kone Tigers in 1963, '64 and early '65 before the Education Department posted me to Kerema. A bloke couldn’t get much of a game down there on the Gulf, but in any event I was intending to go pinis towards the end of that final year.

Continue reading "Hard men of Papuan rugby league (cont)" »

PNG players make it big in Aussie footy

Hewago (Ace) Paul Oea (left) in action for the Gold Coast Suns
Hewago 'Ace' Paul Oea (left) in action for the Gold Coast Suns

| Wantok Almanac | Edited extracts

Link here to read the full article. Wantok Almanac is a collaboration between Wantok Musik’s David Bridie and The Footy Almanac’s Jarrod Landells. Both share an affinity with our Pacific neighbourhood and its stories

MELBOURNE - On the streets of Port Moresby, there is a fervour and life for rugby league that mimics any passion worldwide.

Think Rio Janeiro’s favelas bristling with Ronaldinho acolytes, or Delhi devotees playing cricket every day to become the new Sehwag in the hearts of a billion people.

Continue reading "PNG players make it big in Aussie footy" »

Where the national game is rugby league

In 1966 a PNG schoolboys' team defeated a NSW team 13-5 in Sydney (link to this remarkable story at end of  article)


NOOSA – In 2020, Rob Corra took on the massive task of producing a podcast for fans of rugby league – the self-styled ‘greatest game of all’.

Rugby league is also, uniquely, the national sport of Papua New Guinea, the only nation that has awarded it such a high honour.

Corra’s podcast ‘That’s The Way It Was made its internet debut in January 2021 looking back at the history and traditions of rugby league.

Continue reading "Where the national game is rugby league" »

A 50 year old photo & a story to be told

New Ireland v Vunakanau Tigers  Rabaul  1972 (David-Bridie)
New Ireland v Vunakanau Tigers, Queen's Park, Rabaul,  1972 (David-Bridie)


NOOSA – Now here’s a challenge to readers, especially if you, or someone you know or ought to know, was in and around Rabaul in the early 1970s.

My friend and back fence neighbour, freelance writer and all-round good bloke, Ian Hauser, has brought to our collective attention this spectacular photograph from 1972.

Continue reading "A 50 year old photo & a story to be told" »

When calling league was a safety risk

Front page Post-Courier pic from the Hanuabada Hawks v Magani-Badili PRL grand final, 1974. Hawks won 44-29. Richard was probably there


BENDIGO - When we (my wife and I) lived in Port Moresby during the 1960s and 70s there were five member clubs of the Papuan Rugby League (PRL).

These were Kone Tigers (gold and black), Paga (light blue), Magani-Badili (maroon), DCA or Department of Civil Aviation (white with a blue V) and Hanuabada Hawks (green and white — mainly green).

Continue reading "When calling league was a safety risk" »

No casino - we have enough problems

| My Land, My Country

PokiesIt is an absolutely disgusting move by the National Gaming and Control Board - Papua New Guinea’s gaming regulator - to sign off papers giving the OK for a new casino to be built in Port Moresby. It is even more disgusting that the Board sees fit to announce itself as a partner in the gambling business

LAE - Here’s are some questions for the National Gaming and Control Board.

How will the Board – the regulator – regulate itself as a partner and the investor in the event that there are offences committed against the law?

Continue reading "No casino - we have enough problems" »

Cricket: The day we nearly beat Goroka

The Cricketer (Harry Lake  KN13)
'The Cricketer' as sketched by Harry Lake in 1964


NOOSA – In 1964, when I was in Kundiawa in my first year of teaching, a kiap called Max Orken and I started what we termed the Central Highlands Cricket Competition – Minj, Kerowagi, Chuave, Kundiawa.

The other blokes in Kundiawa wanted to play cricket – we played most weekends – but didn’t want to organise stuff, so despite my lack of aptitude at hit, throw and catch, they had made me captain and told me to get on with organising the competition.

In any other place I might have been dubbed club secretary, scorer or umpire. But in Kundiawa, the fellas compensated me for my work by making an untalented 19-year old captain and permanent member of the playing squad.

Continue reading "Cricket: The day we nearly beat Goroka" »

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.

Continue reading "Reflections on footy & the NRL grand final" »

PNG celebrates Justin Olam’s spot in history

Justin Olam scores the first try of the NRL grand final
Justin Olam scores the first try of the NRL grand final

| Pacific Beat | Australian Broadcasting Corporation

PORT MORESBY - Rugby-mad Papua New Guinea has a new hero, Melbourne Storm player Justin Olam, who earned a spot in the history books by becoming just the fourth Papua New Guinean to be part of a winning NRL grand final team.

He is the kid from a remote village, growing up playing with a soft drink bottle filled with sand. The 26-year-old has been a true role model, providing inspiration not only in sports but with a degree in applied physics.

Continue reading "PNG celebrates Justin Olam’s spot in history" »

Olam flying high after deluge of homeland love

Justin Olam celebrates a try against CanberraPHIL LUTTON
| Sydney Morning Herald

SYDNEY - Justin Olam looks uncomfortable when his airborne try against the Raiders in the preliminary final comes up in conversation.

The Storm star is not the kind of player who seeks the limelight, let alone the highlight reel, and points out that the only reason he had to take off in last week's game was to clear a player on the ground, not to add flourish to the finish.

Continue reading "Olam flying high after deluge of homeland love" »

Elsie didn’t always do it sweet in league

Elsie Albert only started playing rugby league two years ago (NRL Photos)
Elsie Albert only started playing rugby league two years ago (NRL Photos)

| ABC | Pacific Beat | Extract

MELBOURNE - St George Illawarra Dragons recruit Elsie Albert considers herself lucky to have not had rubbish thrown at her by fans while playing rugby in her home country of Papua New Guinea.

The 24-year-old is the rugby-mad nation's first homegrown player to be picked up by an NRLW team, and is part of the squad named for today's first match of the season against the Sydney Roosters.

Continue reading "Elsie didn’t always do it sweet in league" »

The last hockey game

Graham King
Graham King in action on the hockey pitch


YUNGABURRA - I remember the date of my last hockey game as it was the same day as the more famous Live Aid concert - 13 July 1985.

My wife had gone to her village, Tubusereia, for the weekend and I was to play hockey and then go to a friend’s place to watch the concert live.

I also remember the date as it also relates to my favourite memory of Dr Jim Jacobi.  Recently there have been some photos and memories of Dr Jacobi on Facebook and I have my own story to tell.

Continue reading "The last hockey game" »

Sex, yams and cricket

| New Zealand Herald

AUCKLAND - If the Trobriand Islanders were allowed to take part in the 2019 Cricket World Cup, they would have caused quite a stir, surpassing the razzmatazz of the modern game.

From the boundary at Yalumgwa's cricket ground I'm watching a violent tribal encounter at the crease without the slightest hint of sportsmanship.

Continue reading "Sex, yams and cricket" »

Youth bulges as population booms

Spectators line a makeshift ring (Natalie Whiting)
Boxers entertain crowds of mainly young people at an after hours marketplace in Mt Hagen (Natalie Whiting)

| PNG correspondent | Australian Broadcasting Corporation

MOUNT HAGEN - The Mount Hagen Market is usually one of the busiest places in town, with hundreds of people visiting each day to buy fruit and vegetables.

But on Sundays it belongs to the City Rats and their crowd of spectators, who form a circle and watch as two men strap on shin guards and gloves. Then the fight begins.

Continue reading "Youth bulges as population booms" »

PNG's rise as world cricket heroes

PNG captain Assad Vala leads his team off the field (Peter Della Penna)
PNG captain Assad Vala leads his team off the field (Peter Della Penna)

| ESPN CricInfo

DUBAI - Papua New Guinea? Why are we talking about them now?

They've just made it to their first-ever senior cricket World Cup.

Wow. When did they start playing?

According to the International Cricket Council, the sport was introduced to the country in the 1900s by Christian missionaries from England. But their first match took place against a touring Australia XI in 1972 at Amini Park in Port Moresby, their capital. A year later, they were formally admitted as an Associate member of the ICC.

Continue reading "PNG's rise as world cricket heroes" »

PNG energy: T20 suits our play, says Assad

T20 cricket captain Assad Vala - "What this group is about is working for each other"

| SportsCafe

DUBAI - It was a dream run for Papua New Guinea as they have earned their ticket to the T20 World Cup which will take place in Australia next year.

Their skipper Assad Vala, who will lead the team in their maiden World Cup adventure, said that the format suits their energy and its what they play back home.

Continue reading "PNG energy: T20 suits our play, says Assad" »

Full match report: PNG off floor to beat Kenya

Barramundis celebrate their win (ICC)
On their way to  next year's T20 World Cup, the Barramundis celebrate their historic win (ICC)

| Emerging Cricket

Papua New Guinea 118 (Vanua 54, Bundi 4-18, Oluoch 2-15) defeated Kenya 73 (Karim 29, Vala 3-7, Pokana 3-21) by 45 runs

DUBAI – The PNG Barramundis maintained their position at the top of the Group A despite being reduced to 19/6 after being put in by a Kenyan team looking for a convincing victory and net run rate boost to keep their World Cup dreams alive.

And it was a dream start for the East African nation. Emmanuel Bundi dismissed Tony Ura, Assad Vala, and Charles Amini in his first over; the latter wicket being the first in a series of batsmen caught behind the wicket.

Continue reading "Full match report: PNG off floor to beat Kenya" »

China will fund Pacific Games stadium in Solomons

Solomons prime minister Manasseh Sogavare  Chinese premier Li Keqiang
Solomons prime minister Manasseh Sogavare Chinese premier Li Keqiang (standing) and other officials at the signing ceremony in the Great Hall of the People Beijing China (Thomas Peter-Pool)

| Sport Business Asia

BEIJING, CHINA - China has stepped in with K250 million to bankroll the construction of the main stadium for the 2023 Pacific Games in Solomon Islands, after Honiara struggled to fund the project.

China is taking over the funding of the stadium from Taiwan, which had previously pledged the funds.

Continue reading "China will fund Pacific Games stadium in Solomons" »

The implications of Rugby’s persecution of Israel Folau

Israel Folau
Israel Folau "has not sought to persecute; all he has done is issue a heartfelt, albeit misdirected, warning"


TUMBY BAY - The appalling decision by the politically correct pedants at Rugby Australia to terminate Israel Folau’s contract for the apparently heinous offence of posting a comment on his religious beliefs has set a very dangerous precedent.

I’m not particularly inclined to get excited about grown men chasing a leather ball around a paddock nor am I inclined to believe in supreme beings but I am inclined to believe that people like Israel Folau have a perfect right to say what they believe without fear of persecution.

What he said is what he believes. He was born in New South Wales of Tongan parents. As a Pacific Islander his profound religious beliefs come as no surprise.

That he felt the need to warn people who are different to him of the imputed biblical consequences of those differences, irrelevant as that may be, is also not particularly unusual.

Continue reading "The implications of Rugby’s persecution of Israel Folau" »

Tahina Booth & the healing power of rugby league

Tahina Booth in full cry against the Jillaroos (Nathan Hopkins NRL)
Tahina Booth in full cry against the Jillaroos
(Nathan Hopkins NRL)


SYDNEY - For Tahina Booth, having the opportunity to play for the Cronulla Sharks in this year’s Harvey Norman Women’s Premiership has been a game-changer.

Tahina only recently returned to the game after some time away and is enjoying playing alongside some of the biggest names in women’s rugby league.

"When Ruan Sims speaks, I am just in awe. I am a low-key fan girl. I feel the same way about Corban McGregor. I love the team and I love the culture," she said.

Whilst Tahina may be in awe of her team-mates, she hasn’t had the opportunity to share her personal story with them. Undoubtedly, if the rest of the team knew that story, they would be low-key fan-girling about her, too.

Tahina grew up in Papua New Guinea and has a deep personal understanding about the levels of gender inequality that exist there.

Continue reading "Tahina Booth & the healing power of rugby league" »

Komo youth drop guns & knives to pick up a rugby ball


PORT MORESBY - After six years of tribal fighting, the youth of Komo in Hela Province have taken it upon themselves to reject violence and start the first ever rugby competition.

“We started this about six weeks ago,” said Dr Michael Mai patron of the Komo Rugby Football League Association (KRL) at the official launch last month.

“This is history in the making, a dawn of a new day for this electorate.

“As we are all aware this place was once a no go zone. Komo was a ghost town with no activity except for security vehicles driving up and down the roads.”

Seeing that the youths were being drawn into tribal fighting and substance abuse, KRL chairman Morris Edwin teamed up with Dr Mai to trial 10 teams in a Christmas touch football game.

Continue reading "Komo youth drop guns & knives to pick up a rugby ball" »

To challenge China's influence, Australia turns to rugby league

PNG PM's XIII versus Australia (NRL)STAFF CORRESPONDENT | Reuters

SYDNEY - Australia will direct more foreign aid to develop the sport of rugby league in the Pacific, officials say, bolstering a soft power offensive against China’s growing influence in the region.

The plan, backed by prime minister Scott Morrison, aims to tap into a shared passion for the bruising game — which differs from its more globally popular cousin, rugby union — by funding more coaching clinics and exhibition matches on far-flung Pacific islands being wooed by China.

“The prime minister sees rugby league as a central component of his soft-power plan as China’s influence in the Pacific grows,” said a senior rugby league official.

Continue reading "To challenge China's influence, Australia turns to rugby league" »

Chad Soper an unlikely cricket find as Barramundis rise

Chad Soper
Chad Soper made his PNG debut in the baggy black in 2015

JOSH SIM | ABC Newcastle

NEWCASTLE - An Australia-based member of Papua New Guinea's national cricket team is confident the Pacific nation can become a powerhouse of tier-two world cricket after its success in Hong Kong last month.

Born in Port Moresby to a Papua New Guinean mother and a New Zealander father, Chad Soper grew up on the New South Wales Central Coast.

Last month he returned from a tour of Hong Kong where he was a member of PNG national side the Barramundis which completed a set of 2-1 victories in a tier two One Day International and T20 International series.

Tier two teams include Scotland, the Netherlands and Nepal, while the world's top 12 teams contest the ICC Test Championship.

But just getting to represent his nation has been an unlikely achievement for the young cricketer, now a valuable member of the world's 17th-ranked side.

Continue reading "Chad Soper an unlikely cricket find as Barramundis rise" »

Best of our new years: Smokin' Joe's Moresby encounter

2008 - Joe FrazierRICHARD JONES (2008)

BENDIGO - In the mid-1970s Muhammad Ali's greatest opponent, Smokin’ Joe Frazier, and entourage visited Port Moresby.

They were in town for a few days and Joe went a few exhibition rounds at Sir Hubert Murray Stadium. His opponent one night was James ‘Digger’ Annand, a noted rugby league player for DCA.

The fit, blond Annand towered over the former world heavyweight champion, who was of stocky build but with enormous thighs (he had to have specially tailored boxing shorts).

Digger poked out long, left leads as the ex-champ bobbed and weaved. Mercifully Joe didn't throw the famous left hook which sent Ali sprawling to the canvas in their first bout, the 1971 world championship at Madison Square Garden.

The Moresby stadium was packed on that balmy evening more than three decades ago. As ring announcer, I recall a number of Papua New Guineans bursting from their grandstand seats, pushing through the security cordon and throwing a few choice words Frazier's way from ringside.

"Joe Fraz-ee-yah. You not in the same class as Muhammad Ali,'' was the refrain before the interlopers were hustled away. Frazier might have been a great fighter, but for the PNG boxing fans, Ali was their man.

Now what’s the best puripuri – stuff from Rabaul or from the Gulf?

Sean Dorney
Sean Dorney was an ABC journalist in PNG around the time he captained the national rugby league team


SYDNEY – As you, my more faithful readers, will already know from my previous scribblings, during my time in Papua New Guinea I had the pleasure and privilege of playing rugby league with some highly talented players, both Papua New Guinean and expatriate.

Of the latter group Sean Dorney and Bill Phillips were standouts. In the 1975 season the three of us were the only expats playing for the Port Moresby Club, Paga. The rest of the team was mainly drawn from the New Guinea Islands.

Towards the end of the season we had to play Gulf, a team of big tough players drawn mainly from Gulf Province. A win for us was essential if we were to qualify for the finals.

So to ensure this was the case, one of Paga’s committee was dispatched to Rabaul to obtain a magic potion, or puripuri, which, we were told, if applied to the body would result in certain victory.

Prior to the game we all smeared it on. All over ourselves. Good Rabaul puripuri.

Continue reading "Now what’s the best puripuri – stuff from Rabaul or from the Gulf?" »

Open yer meat pies & go the biff! Get me?

1974 team
The 1974 New Guinea team that beat Papua in Port Moresby. The game ended in a riot


SYDNEY - Nicknames are common in sport; particularly so in adult male teams. Many rugby league players who graced the playing fields of Port Moresby in the 1960s and 1970s boasted a wide variety of monikers.

Some came to Moresby from ‘down south’ with them already attached by some other body who hadn’t bother to explain them to us.

So we didn’t know why DCA’s James Annand was always referred to as ‘Digger’ or Barry van Heekeren was ‘Mocha’.

But many others were christened after they arrived and, in our usual lazy way, we simply linked. nicknames to surnames.

One more colourful handle I remember was that of Magani lower grade coach Jim Taylor who was called ‘Squizzy’ after the notorious Melbourne criminal.

Continue reading "Open yer meat pies & go the biff! Get me?" »

The day the sport of kings took on an entirely new meaning

Ming Dynasty
Ming Dynasty with Midge Didham aboard wins the 1980 Caulfield Cup at 66/1 - lucky for some


SYDNEY - Occasionally I like to have a small flutter on the horses, usually with little success. But it’s a pleasant pursuit I continued through my PNG days and the infrequent win was always a cause of great delight.

The only time I won anything worthwhile was when former Papua New Guinea colonial politician John Pasquarelli (later Pauline Hansen's controversial adviser) advised me to back his horse, Luddenham Lass, which won.

Trevor Downs, owner of the Vanimo Hotel, also tipped me his horse, Binatang. It didn’t win but came second at odds of 100/1 so I still collected.

But my biggest pay-day ever in PNG was purely by accident. Back in the 1970s I used to regularly back a magnificent grey horse, Ming Dynasty and I had wagered on him when he won the Caulfield Cup in 1977.

Continue reading "The day the sport of kings took on an entirely new meaning" »

Noble art – the day Doug Beer sought the solace of the ropes

Digger Annand
After Digger Annand left PNG he played rugby league in Australia. Here he prepares to take a ball for Taree United


SYDNEY - During Port Moresby rugby league’s off season in the 1960s and 1970s, some players turned to boxing to keep fit.

Bouts were usually held at the old Nita Theatre in Tabari Place, Boroko, though sometimes bigger promotions were held at Lloyd Robson Oval or Sir Hubert Murray Stadium.

The biggest boxing attraction from rugby league ranks was the big James ‘Digger’ Annand, a talented and tough second rower cum centre from the DCA club. Digger was also a competent heavyweight boxer.

After a series of bouts against second rate opponents from Port Moresby’s league ranks, a group of expatriate promoters matched him with a known fighter from Australia, a man named Doug Beer.

Beer claimed to be the “heavyweight champion of the Riverina”, whatever that meant. In reality he had featured in only 14 bouts, winning a few but on the losing end of most.

Moreover he had been knocked out in his last two fights which had taken place about two years before his appearance in Port Moresby.

Continue reading "Noble art – the day Doug Beer sought the solace of the ropes" »

The early days of Papuan rugby league: Friday nights at the PRL

Papua v New Guinea 1964
Program for the annual Papua versus New Guinea encounter, 1964


SYDNEY - In the 1960s and 1970s there was only once place to be in Port Moresby on Friday night, well during the footie season anyway.

The place was the Papuan Rugby League ground in Boroko, play starting with Reserve Grade at six followed by A Grade at nine, usually finishing around 10.30 which gave most club members four or five hours to get well lubricated.

Although there were only five A Grade clubs the standard of play was high and supporters very committed to their teams. As the consumption of alcohol escalated, so did the noise of barracking.

But, as tough and skilled as were the games, the real action took place after the final whistle of A Grade. The downstairs area of the club became a venue for Games Night, each club taking it in turn to run the events which were a valuable source of funds.

The games included Under and Overs, Crown and Anchor and, later in the evening, Two Up. As you would expect, the mix of alcohol, parochialism and gambling created a heady atmosphere although ever vigilant club officials made sure fights rarely occurred within the gambling area. After all, if things got out of hand, they could lose a lot of money and the revenue from these nights was essential. (Rugby League in PNG was professional even in those days.)

Continue reading "The early days of Papuan rugby league: Friday nights at the PRL" »

A tale of two boxers, the Queen and a happy ending

The bout
A grainy screenshot of Tumat Sogolik fighting Barry McGuigan in the controversial Commonwealth Games gold medal bout in Edmonton in 1978


SYDNEY - Boxing can be a cruel game. Not only do boxers suffer in the ring but many, even after successful careers, end up destitute; some with severe health problems.

There are few happy endings in this so called sport.

This story, however, is one of them. It involves two amateur boxers, one from Ireland and the other from a remote province of Papua New Guinea who battled out the final of the bantamweight division at the 1978 Commonwealth Games in Edmonton, Canada.

Barry McGuigan was a tough 17 year old from Cloves, Ireland, although he represented Northern Ireland at the Games.

Tumat Sogolik was 23 and a customs officer born in New Ireland. He was an experienced amateur having won gold at two regional boxing championships in the Pacific and was something of a national hero in PNG.

Continue reading "A tale of two boxers, the Queen and a happy ending" »

Mary Tenge: Melanesian athlete & the pride of Barengigl


BARENGIGL – Seventeen year old Mary Tenge is participating in the Melanesian athletic championship in Vanuatu and the people of Barengigl are mightily proud.

A Grade 9 student, Mary lives in Barengigl village in the Gembogl District of Simbu Province, the second child of Boi and Degba Tenge - the only girl child among their four children.

Mary – a specialised 1,500 metres and steeple chase runner - is in Papua New Guinea’s athletics team for the regional championships.

She discovered her potential as a middle distance runner in 2015 during the annual Mt Wilhelm relay marathon, the initiative of the former MP for Kundiawa-Gembogl, Tobias Kulung.

Every relay marathon team comprises six members who each run a distance of seven kilometres to complete the 46 kilometre race. Mary was the opening runner in her team and her speed over the distance led to her potential being discovered.

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And now the sports report – the last bastion of fair play gone


1982 Games
Stamp from 1982 Brisbane Commonwealth Games - 36 years later, has sport lost its way?

TUMBY BAY - I’ve been especially careful this week to avoid television sets, but it’s been harder than I thought.

Everywhere I go they are there; be it the local supermarket, airport or doctor’s surgery.

And they’re all showing the same program, the Commonwealth Games: an endless, mind-numbing cavalcade of running, jumping, swimming, pedalling and throwing of objects.

I’ve got nothing against sport; if it turns you on that’s well and good.

It’s a great equaliser and a great substitute for more violent tendencies, like warfare.

Indeed, if our great religions made sport a mandatory part of their faith the world might be a much more peaceful place.

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Aspirational Orchids seek to break cycle of domestic violence

Orchids (Courier-Mail)
Orchids national rugby league team - hurriedly assembled but came together brilliantly to inspire PNG

CAROLINE LAYT | Inside Sport

SYDNEY - The newly formed Papua New Guinea’s women’s rugby league team have created a much needed presence for sports women in their country following a spirited World Cup campaign.

With a United Nations report putting domestic violence levels committed against women in PNG at 67%, the Orchids have created a much needed pathway for women to aspire and escape the cycle of domestic violence.

Orchids captain Cathy Neap told Inside Sport how important the team’s presence was in giving squad members a profile at home.

Neap said her squad were now performing similar feats on the field as PNG men’s team making what she believes is a permanent change for the better.

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Practical & pragmatic action needed for PNG rugby league

Kumuls - winning & grinning as they make a big impact on world rugby league


PORT MORESBY - It’s time to take stock after the 2017 Rugby League World Cup

The PNG Hunters this year won the Queensland Intrust-Super Cup after being in the competition just four years.

Riding on the back of that success, our national team, the Kumuls, surpassed all previous records and rising above their world ranking of 16 by winning all pool games in front of parochial sell-out crowds at the National Football Stadium in Port Moresby.

Now, with PNG knocked out in the quarter finals, the hard lessons need to be learned. Let this world cup be the beginning of bigger and better things for PNG Rugby League.

PNG rugby league board and management have hinted that they need to put in place a junior program, including a schoolboys program. These must happen without haste in 2018.

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Kumuls need to keep down error count to challenge England

Josh Hodgson and James Segeyaro (Gregg Porteous & David Buller)
Josh Hodgson & James Segeyaro


England v Papua New Guinea, Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, Sunday 4pm AEDT

MELBOURNE - England face an undefeated Papua New Guinea side who venture outside Port Moresby for the first time in this Rugby League World Cup.

Wayne Bennett's England side has shown patches of what they are capable of, without yet putting in an 80-minute performance, with victories over France (36-6) and Lebanon (29-10).

The Kumuls come to Melbourne after accounting for Wales, Ireland and the USA by a combined 128-12.

The English get Sam Burgess back who returns from a knee injury and will start in the second row, with Ryan Hall and Kallum Watkins replacing Stefan Ratchford and Mark Percival in the backline.

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Kumuls can knock England out of world cup says Paul Aiton

Paul Aiton


LONDON - Paul Aiton is convinced Papua New Guinea can pull off a major shock by knocking England out of the World Cup.

Aiton and his Kumuls team will have eight million fans screaming them on back in PNG.

The Catalans and former Leeds star admits even he’s in awe of the passion in a country where rugby league is the national sport.

He said: “We’ve had a lot of trouble with politics and tribal stuff but when we play for the Kumuls everyone is behind us.

“It is hard for other people to understand. PNG people just love the game - they even clap if the other team does something well which is unreal.”

England are big favourites to win Sunday’s quarter-final in Melbourne but Aiton insists his side also have their eyes on the semi-finals. He said: “Our chances are very good, 50-50 as far as we’re concerned. We are training to win.”

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Women’s rugby league's power for change in PNG


Cathy Neap
Cathy Neap - rugby league is helping redefine PNG women

SYDNEY - No one needs to tell Papua New Guinea captain Cathy Neap about the power of the Women's Rugby League World Cup.

And it's not about growing the game, as league is already PNG's national pastime.

The fact is that women are now playing at the highest level has helped the country's female population overcome one of the nation's worst-kept secrets: an alarmingly high rate of domestic violence.

Cathy Neap plays in the back row for the Orchids and is proud to captain PNG at their first World Cup appearance. She says she owes rugby league another debt of gratitude.

"Definitely this game is working for us, for the women. We are gaining respect from the men in my country," she told

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