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Cricket gaining momentum in rugby league-mad PNG

Participants attended a course run by the International Cricket Council East Asia Pacific and Queensland Cricket.
Participants attended a course run by the International Cricket Council East Asia Pacific and Queensland Cricket.

Photo by Sophie Yaruso and Lutita Anitele’a.

As part of the WINS (Women in News and Sport) program run by ABC International Development, journalists Lorraine Genia, Priscilla Harry, Iutita Anitele’a and Sophie Yaruso find out more about cricket in Papua New Guinea - a sport that is often overshadowed by the more popular pastime of rugby league.

Seven years ago Trevor Bauworo never dreamt of becoming a regional cricket manager for the Popondetta Cricket Association. Little did he know that an opportunity would come knocking at his door one day to mentor young children to play cricket.

Gathered at the Cricket PNG (CPNG) headquarters in Port Moresby, Trevor is currently participating in a course run by the International Cricket Council East Asia Pacific and Queensland Cricket. In only his second month in office as Cricket Development Officer he finds himself among 24 participants from other centres.

What's special about this course for Trevor is that he is focused on the Liklik Kriket Program, which is aimed at teaching the basics skills of cricket to school-aged kids.

Junior cricket development is the key to future talent

Trevor says he is proud to be among the other cricket coaches, gaining more insight into the basics of cricket while refreshing his knowledge on how best to teach the art of the sport to young schoolkids.

"Like any other sport, junior development is important, building a pathway and stretching out," says Trevor.

Interestingly, the PNG National Women's Cricket team - the Lewas - has been dominated by players from the nation's capital in recent years, but Popondetta Cricket Association has beaten all odds to have three of its local female players make the team.

Gety Kila Pat, Sailosi and Natasha Ambo are three female cricketers from the Popondetta Cricket Association who have made it through their club matches into the provincial teams and onto the international stage with the Lewas.

This in itself is a milestone for the Popondetta Cricket Association, one which Trevor is extremely proud of.

Trevor has attributed the success of these female cricket players to junior development initiatives such as the BSP Liklik Kriket Program back in the Oro Province.

Dreams of selection in the national squad

The entire Highlands region is known for having mad rugby league fans and producing some of the best rugby league talent.

With the popularity of this sport, as well as rugby union, football, and track and field, many wouldn't think cricket would have much of a following, or a following at all.

Soman Geana, a dedicated educator and ambassador for CPNG has done wonders for the sport in Mount Hagen over the last six years.

"Since 2010 clinics and programs have been implemented in 36 schools in the Jiwaka Province and Western Highlands," Soman says.

Since coming on board as CPNG's regional manager in the Highlands in 2010, Soman has been involved with several education-based cricket programs, most notably BSP School Kriket Program, and the Gold Nuggets School competitions.

"BSP School Kriket Program provided an opportunity for schools to include physical education into their schools, and also an opportunity to play cricket at a higher level," says Soman.

Hagen town already has existing pitches, so Soman believes the only way forward is educating the community about the sport.

Through corporate backing in recent years, outer regions have had the benefit of beginning basic cricket sessions, from schools right through to the provincial level.

"Throughout the six years, and through the schools cricket programs, kids have been selected from Hagen and Jiwaka to go to Lae, to play in competitions such as Transhighway, and PNG Games," Soman says.

But while his number one priority is focussed on engaging the wider community and population in the Highlands to play cricket, Soman's ultimate goal is to pave the way forward for a representative from the Highlands to one day be selected and included in the national squad.

EMTV’s Lorraine Genia and Priscilla Harry from the Post Courier interview CPNG’s regional manager in the Highlands, Soman Geana.
EMTV’s Lorraine Genia and Priscilla Harry from the Post Courier interview CPNG’s regional manager in the Highlands, Soman Geana. They are taking part in sports journalism training by ABC International Development.

Supplied.

This story was produced by female journalists from Papua New Guinea and Samoa who were mentored and trained as part of the WINS (Women in News and Sport) program run by ABC International Development funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.