At a press conference following the win, PNG captain Eugene Eka said the team couldn’t have done it without the support of their families and fans.
“To come to training for the past three or four years, we had to go back to our families for bus fares and stuff like that for training camps,” Eka said. “To travel we had to ask our families for pocket money to support each and every one of us.”
“And our families had to stick together with us. PNG is a family-oriented country so they were there every day of the competition and every day of training up until now.”
“So the gold medal isn’t for us, it’s for the families and the country of Papua New Guinea.”Eka also said it was a brotherly bond among the team, especially those hailing from the suburbs of Sabama and Kaugere in Port Moresby where unemployment rates are particularly high, that helped keep the team intact.
“Most of us grew up as juniors together, living in containers together until we were able to play in town competitions together,” Eka said.
“That’s where most of the boys in the team lived. And for us to do something like this is not hard for them.”
“We just put our heads forward, and don’t think about what has happened before. Just move with the positives and forget the negatives.”
“That’s what we talk about. Nobody is perfect in the world but a little bit of effort from yourself will push you were you want to go.”
When asked about the men’s gold medal game itself, Eka said Samoa’s efforts had encouraged his team to perform beyond previous limits.
“The Samoans played the same type of structures the Australian teams play,” Eka said.“They pushed us to a level but we played a style of touch footy that is known in Papua New Guinea – the PNG style – and it pushed us to win the game even though we were trailing at stages of the game.”
“Even though the team was down and out, when we had the support of the crowd and the families, it pushed the team to work beyond what they had expected of themselves. It was a good feeling.”
By Joyce Mark-Sabbath, Games News Service