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From AROB to KANSAS.jpg

From Bouganville to Kansas

By Nathan WOTI             SportsTok Magazine | Issue #97 | September 2021


Overseas travel was the last thing on the minds of Alphonse Igish and Jonathan Dende when they left their homes on Bouganville in February 2020 for the National Sports Institute in Goroka as part of the first intake for the revived Athlete Development Programme. Buin Secondary student Dende had been identified at the 2018 Inter high school carnival attended by NSI staff and was invited to a Camp at Hutjena later that year. Igish who had graduated from Hutjena Secondary a year earlier and was playing rugby also attended the Camp. The pair caught the attention of Athletics Coach Samu Sasama who recommended further training for them in Goroka.
“The boys were just happy to be able to come to Goroka for training and further their education by upgrading their marks through the DODL programme “said Director Janet Gimots. “It was only when Tony Green suggested after the Grand Prix in Moresby back in July this year that we send them to the USA that we considered this idea and the boys were naturally very excited” added Gimots. With pledges of support from Regional Member for Bouganville Peter Tsiamalili Jnr and Minister Timothy Masiu things moved quickly. In fact the Regional Member added that Bouganville is looking to send more athletes in partnership with Athletics PNG.
Green said he was impressed with the progress made by the two athletes this year, especially Jonathan who ran an excellent 400m in Port Moresby this year, clocking 48.74 seconds. We know Alphonse was hindered by an injury in 2020 but at this year’s Grand Prix in Moresby he was right on the tail of Emmanuel Anis in both the 100m and 200m.  Having these three athletes joining Leroy Kamau in the US is going to be very good for PNG’s 4x100m relay.
Cloud County Community College offers two year programmes, following which many students transfer to Universities to pursue a degree programme. The athletes will compete for Cloud in the Junior College track and field programme for two seasons (2022 and 2023) and with the Pacific Games coming up in November 2023 these athletes will be well placed to make the team.



President Green thanked Minister Masiu and the Regional Member Mr Tsiamalili for their support and encouraged other Provinces to support their talented athletes in this way. With six other National squad members already at Cloud there will be a big welcome for the athletes and plenty of support as they adjust to life in the States.
Dream On Track  
Meanwhile, Papua New Guinea’s another up and coming 100 meter specialist, Emmanuel Anis, is also set to join the rest of his fellow PNG athletes in the Unites States of America.  Anis, 20, from Meni Village, Wewak, East Sepik province, is the latest young PNG Track and Field athlete to be offered the chance to further his education and sporting career in the United States. Anis’s scholarship arrangement was made possible by his Governor Allan Bird.
Anis will be joining Isila Apkup and a number of other PNG athletes at Cloud County Community College in the city of Concordia Kansas. East Sepik Governor Hon. Allan Bird said that his Provincial Government is “proud to support talented young Sepiks, especially in Athletics where there are few Sepik representatives in the National Team”.
“We wish him well and hope he makes his family and our country proud” he said.
Anis joined the sport of athletics in June 2019 when his Sportsmaster at Bishop Leo Secondary school Paul Swakau brought him to Maprik for an ESP High School Athletics Programme conducted by Coaches Otto Wafia and Malcolm Limbai. His standout performances resulted in Limbai convincing him to take up athletics and he joined the team training for the 2019 National Championships where he impressed by winning his 100m heat with a time of 10.77 seconds (+2.5)
Athletics PNG President Tony Green thanked the East Sepik Governor for his support and said that Emmanuel had told him after his visa interview that he was both humbled and excited at the opportunity to go to the USA.
“Emmanuel achieved good grades in the National G12 exams last year but missed out on his first choice of study which was Political Science at DWU. Though he had the option of another institution on a self-sponsor basis, Emmanuel and his family decided he would focus on training this year whilst APNG sought opportunities for him” said Green. He relocated to Port Moresby in February where he joined Nelson Stone’s squad and has really enjoyed the training there while living with his aunt.
At Cloud, Anis will join teammates Ephraim Lerkin, Shadrick Tansi, Emmanuel Wanga, Leroy Kamau, Isila Apkup and Leonie Beu. “The programme has been very good for our athletes said Green and especially at this time with so many training interruptions at home we are happy that they are able to further their education whilst getting a good preparation for next year’s Pacific Mini Games and Commonwealth Games.

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