World Cup fervour sweeps Port Moresby

Oct 27, 2017 - 8:26 AM Every afternoon at Kone Oval in Port Moresby dozens and dozens of kids play rugby league on the park scattered with garbage and dirt.

The hits are ferocious, shirts are torn, and dust flies as they try to emulate their favourite players.

Barefoot boys step past bigger opponents and pebbles scatter.

But World Cup fervour is everywhere in Papau New Guinea these days.

The National Football Stadium across town will host the country's first Rugby League World Cup match on Saturday afternoon.

The Kumuls will take on Wales and expectations are high the hosts will record an historic victory.

But for the kids of Port Moresby, they just want to play footy.

"We just love it, it's part of our blood," former Kumuls flyer Marcus Bai told AAP.

The teams usually pool their money together and bet on who will win the scrap matches, played in the shadow of the affluent Touguba Hill.

Across the road is the Sir Hubert Murray Stadium, a half-finished concrete colossus set to one day house 25,000 screaming PNG fans.

As the sun gets lower and lower in the sky the games grow more desperate as the boys know it will soon be time to stop.

A chip and chase here, an inside ball there, the only constant is the smiles on the faces of the players.

Some of the boys tell AAP they will be glued to the television on Saturday afternoon to watch their heroes in action.

The Boas brothers Ase and Watson are worshipped the way Mal Meninga used to be.

Perhaps when Sir Hubert Murray Stadium hosts the next generation of Kumuls it will be in familiar surrounds for the boys who grew up playing across the road.

Source: AAP






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