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Hero's program leads to lost association

BY JOEL PURI             SportsTok Magazine | Issue #89    JANUARY 2021

Journeying the initial PNG HERO’s Program with enthusiasm leads to the discovery of a lost basketball association in the Kikori District of Gulf province.
The PNG HERO’s program is the Papua New Guinea Olympic Committees (PNGOC) Athlete Ambassador program that echoes PNGOC’s core values of Honesty, Excellence, Respect and Openness.
PNGOC sees Team PNG athletes as role models to drive positive changes in societies and show the positive values that are associated with sports.
This program is funded by ExxonMobil PNG through the Olympic Values Education Program (OVEP) and supported by the International Olympic Committee.
PNG HERO’s Program was rolling out to the communities, especially at the mine site areas where the actual pipe line for Exxon Mobil runs through, starting with communities in Kikori, Gulf province.
It intends to involve the communities in sports and provide the opportunity for the Team PNG Athletes to share their wealth of experience with the people in those remote parts of the country to inspire and develop sports.
The program is actually centered at the schools involving communities nearby to participate and understand what the PNGOC values and sports really means for them.
The trip to Kikori in October, 2020 was featured by Nelson Stone, Linda Paulson, Dia Muri and team leader Milton Kisapai, according to Dia Muri.
Team HERO’s camped for a week and carried out the program with an in-depth meaning of what sports can do for an individual as it did for them.
They also gave words of encouragement to children around there to concentrate in their studies while playing sports.
During that busy week, Dia noticed a bare basketball court and out of curiosity asked out a mother nearby about it.
After a few minutes of chatting with her, Dia told her to inform the kids around there to gather together at the court in the afternoon so he could come meet with them.
She did what was asked of her and Dia was honored to have the time with those people only to find out the restoration of an extinct basketball association.
It has been a very long while for those people without having an established basketball association since their last championships meet in 1993.
However, in September 2020 they organized an independence cup challenge with the intention to revive the lost pride on the bare basketball court.



With interest, Dia spent time at the court with the kids, teenagers and adults after hours of HERO’s Program during that week of staying.
While doing that, it aroused the interests of many people to actually meet up and raise concerns to have a registered association.
“They actually contributed and gave me their registration fees to affiliate their association to the federation after I explained everything to them,” said Dia.
With greatness Dia came and paid the registration fees with their money and affiliated “Kikori Urban Basketball Association” to the PNG Basketball Federation straight after team HERO’s left the site.
The revived Kikori Urban Basketball Association had its grand final for the Independence Cup challenge in December after three months of competition and invited Dia to officiate the final matches.
Dia accepted the invite and went to officiate the grand final games. He stayed with them for a week after the final and helped them with coaching clinics, inserting question and answer sessions to give clear understanding to them on how to officiate and coach with applicable rules.
It is to give them some form of understanding about the sport itself and how it is played.
After winding down the week on coaching clinics, they sailed for their first ever selection trials in Port Moresby.  
Dia also left Kikori for Port Moresby after them to assess and help them on how they can compete in such established tournaments.
Team Kikori left Port Moresby after the selection trial, but maintains communications with Dia from time to time when they have questions on how to manage and operate their association.
“They call me and put the phone on speaker especially when they have meetings and allow me to speak to them pertaining to their questions,” he said.
Involving with the people in Kikori has  raise eye brows of the great legend as a talent pathway officer to reach out to the rural areas in the future to talk sports and bring out more raw talents.
“It is believed that most parts of PNG are same especially in the rural settings in terms of sports after observing in Kikori.
“People struggle to tap into sports and if we could go out there and impart the knowledge to develop sports, we would bring out very good talents,” he said.
It is truly a great opportunity and experience to go out and help develop sports in the rural areas with the help of PNGSF through High Performance.
The basketball legend represented PNG from 2002 to 2019 and later joined the High Performance under PNGSF as a talent pathway officer is recently elevated to the National Coach for 3x3 basketball.
The national coach is keen after discovering the lost association which gives him the confidence to go extra miles in doing his role as an agent of change through sports.

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