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Two-day Hevea Cup ends on a positive note

The two-day rugby league nines tournament ended on a high note, which was hosted from November 10-11 at the Santos National Football Stadium in Port Moresby. The Grass Skirt Project's third annual Hevea Cup and Wellness Expo (HCWE) has returned after a three-year hiatus.

The Hevea Cup not only promotes rugby league but also advocates for gender-based violence, health issues, and leadership skills, among other important aspects of life outside of the footy field.

In previous tournaments, only teams from Port Moresby used to participate in the Hevea Cup. However, this time around, a couple of teams from outside Port Moresby took part in the tourney. The three outside teams that participated in the two-day event were the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (AROB), Kerowagi (Simbu), and Kikori (Gulf).

A total of 24 teams (12 men's and 12 women's) took part in the two-day tourney. Many raw and promising talents displayed flashes of brilliance and mesmerizing skills over the weekend. The tournament has given exposure and valuable experience to those hidden talents.

The Director of Hevea Cup, David Westley, said he was pleased with the tournament, despite experiencing a few hiccups.

"We had a slight hiccup in the semifinal, but the issue was rectified, and we were able to complete the games. Overall, the tournament was good," Westley said.

"I think it's a learning curve for us as an organization and how to run it better next time. From the outside, it might have looked really good, but we still have a lot of work to do. We just want to help the players and the community in every way possible."

He urged the administrators of rugby league to focus more on grassroots level competitions and build junior development systems or pathways for the players.

"There is a lot of talent. For me, I grew up in a system where junior development starts at five years old, so I really think we have a lot of work to do within our grassroots level, our school system, and upskilling of our coaches. We need to pour more resources and money into that area. Especially when we have the NRL bid happening, that is where all our energy should be put into."

Meanwhile, the Hevea Cup will be held again next year. The venue and date to host the nine-a-side tournament will be announced at a later date.

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