Panthers make an impact in PNG
The historic trial match between Penrith Panthers and the Hunters ended on a high note leaving the 15,000-plus spectators satisfied having watched two exciting teams in action.
The game was a first of its kind in many ways. It was the first time the Hunters played an NRL team and despite it being a trial match, Penrith Panthers became the first team in the NRL era to play a game in Port Moresby. The game also marked the official opening of the newly built National Football Stadium.
With the game ending in a 20 – 12 win in favour of the Panthers, the game itself was an overall success. The spectators were thrilled to witness the Hunters taking on an NRL team regardless of the outfit consisting mostly of players who were yet to enter the NRL. Moreover, from trialling the two teams, a strong bond between a people and their favourite game was reaffirmed.
With the trial match over, all but two Panthers players flew back to Australia. Those remaining were brothers Wellington and Stanton Albert, with the pair staying back to assist NRL PNG with their League Bilong Laif (LBL) program. Both had volunteered to speak at schools to highlight the importance of respect and having an education.
The brothers, keen on sharing their experience, first stopped by St. Peter’s Chanel Primary school situated in one Port Moresby’s notorious suburbs, Erima. The students were captivated by the two forwards' advice and were quick to ask questions. While there, the Albert brothers presented a prize to the overall winner of the LBL drawing and writing competition that was held late last year at the inaugural National Sports Expo in Port Moresby. Grade 8 student Lucas Teno, when receiving the grand prize said he was “very pleased that his entry was picked” and was thrilled to meet Wellington and Stanton in person. Lucas was joined up front by two of his schoolmates who had each won a consolation prize as well.
Other schools visited by the duo included St. Theresa’s Primary School where they assisted with a LBL teacher training course, and Caritas Girls Technical Secondary School where they met with Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls, Ms Natasha Stott Despoja.