Players visit Cheshire Home in Port Moresby

Players and referees participating in the SP Brewery Pacific Cup in Port Moresby said meeting severely disabled residents at a care home in the city today was a deeply moving experience that would help them put their own worries into perspective.

Representatives from the Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Fiji and Cook Islands squads, along with the tournament’s five referees, visited Cheshire Home residential and care centre.

They brought monetary donations from each of the competing nations and the tournament staff, along with NRL jerseys and kit, which were received with excitement by the care home’s 22 permanent residents and day school pupils.

Cheshire Home’s residential and full-time care services are funded entirely by public donations.

The residents were delighted to meet their heroes from the Papua New Guinea squad including captain John Wilshere and Charlie Wabo, who both played a starring role in the Kumuls’ 44-14 defeat of Tonga on Sunday.

Wilshere presented Cheshire Home with a box of donations from his team-mates and a signed PNG jersey.

“Being here for the Pacific Cup is not just about rugby league, it’s about what you can do through rugby league to make this country better,” said Papua New Guinea trainer Neil Dunkley.

NRL referee Steve Clark said the experience was deeply moving.

“That rocked my foundations,” he said.

“It puts a lot of your problems into perspective.

“When you think of all the dramas that you’ve got and then you see that, you realise you’ve really got none.

“It’s great that we can do visits like this during the tournament because it means so much to the people here – it’ll cheer them up for days.”

Cheshire Home is constantly fundraising to provide care, education and rehabilitation for people with disabilities and special needs.

Their Fundraising and Awareness Coordinator Dorothy Koch said the adults and children were thrilled to meet their Pacific Cup heroes.

“I don’t think words can express the gratitude we feel when we get visitors like these.

“With the disabilities that they have, our residents are unable to go and watch rugby league games, so we treasure every visit from sporting groups.”

The four Pacific Cup teams took time out from their training schedules to tour the centre, and will also be visiting schools and a women’s refuge this week.

Papua New Guinea and the Cook Islands are preparing for Sunday’s tournament final, with a place in the 2010 Four Nations up for grabs, while Fiji and Tonga will face each other in an international rankings match on Saturday.