Excerpt from "Mal Meninga Junior Rugby League Clinic held in Bulolo, Papua New Guinea on 23rd April 2010"
by Bernard Maladina
Mal Meninga remains a very popular figure in Papua New Guinea despite having retired from the sport of rugby league in the early 1990’s. The former Kangaroo captain and football legend is idolized and adored by thousands of children throughout the country. In fact, many of these children who participated in his clinic in Bulolo were not even born during Mal’s playing career. Nonetheless, with his Melanesian heritage, Mal has this ability to assimilate with his fans and is an excellent role model for these children and an incredible individual who draws huge crowds wherever he goes in PNG.
It is also appropriate that Mal should take his clinic to Bulolo because it was there that rugby league began its rise to national prominence when Australian miners first introduced the sport in the 1930’s.
Mal’s contribution in supporting the local junior rugby league is immeasurable and a significant step forward for the sponsors in their effort to develop a strong and proactive development program in this large rural community.
The people of Bulolo were honored to have Mal visit their town and share his experience and football skills with their children and teachers. The Bulolo community is also very grateful to Newcrest Mining Limited; Kramer Ausenco, and Morobe Mining Joint Venture (MMJV) for making it possible.
Mal was ably supported in the clinic by:
- Steve Malum, Northern Division Junior Rugby League Development Coordinator of the PNGRFL;
- Bryan Kramer, Deputy Chairman of PNGRFL;
- Ipisa Wanenga, Principal of Grace Memorial High School in Wau and Senior Rugby League Coach in the District;
- Kennedy William, Headmaster of St. Peter’s Community School and Coordinator of Junior Rugby League in the Bulolo and Wau District, and;
- Joshua Kais, Boina Yaya and Lengeto Giam from MMJV.
PARTICIPANTS / ATTENDEE’S
More than 200 boys ranging from the ages of 10 – 17 attended the clinic. These children play in the Under 10, U 12 & U 16 grades in the Bulolo/Wau junior rugby league division.
Many of the local teachers volunteered their time to assist Mal in controlling the students and the public. They included the headmaster of Grace Memorial Provincial High School in Wau and the headmaster of St Peter’s Community School in Bulolo, two of the largest schools in the Bulolo and Wau area. A head count showed there were 16 teachers who participated in this clinic.
Mal conducted a number of practical ball skills training and tackling techniques and mixed this with a strong message on the need for self-discipline & respect for elders; sportsmanship; healthy living and awareness on the spread of HIV Aids. It was anticipated that the clinic would draw twice the number present but because it was the first term school holidays many children had either returned to their villages or visited relatives outside of Bulolo and Wau to spend their break.
Students at the Bulolo International School had just returned from their break as they follow the NSW curriculum and were not able to participate at the football clinic. However, Mal took a few minutes off to visit the children and their teachers at the school which on record is the oldest international school in PNG. He signed autographs and promoted the message of healthy & clean living; discipline and obtaining a good education to the children. The parents of these children are employees of MMJV and PNG Forest Products, two of the largest companies operating in the Wau/Bulolo district.