by Anneliese Abela - 9 October 2015
They’ve travelled 3,000 kilometres to get here, but distance is no concern for the Corporate Touch Port Moresby touch football team, who have gone from one competition to the next playing the sport they love.
The team, from Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, have flown into Adelaide for the very first time this year, having participated in multiple Masters Games elsewhere in the country.
They’ve arrived just months after winning gold in the 2015 Pacific Games in PNG and after finishing in 7th place at the 2015 FIT Touch World Cup.
Ray Alova, the team’s manager, says the women in the Corporate Touch Port Moresby Team, whose ages range from 41 to 51, have been playing touch together for almost 15 years. He says he has always believed in the skill and dedication shown by each player.
“I have great confidence in them, they’re older, experienced mothers who can play touch footy very well,” Ray says.
“In PNG we just love touch footy – our association is the biggest in Port Moresby and most of the PNG team players are produced from our club.”
Touch football is one of the fastest growing sports in PNG, and Ray says the Australian Masters Games are a great way of supporting the sport back in their home country.
“Although we’ve come a long way and paid a lot of money to participate in the Masters Games, it’s good for us because we go back home and expose the standard of game that we play here,” he says.
“Touch is such a family sport – people spend all weekend there, through the day and into the evening, and all the students play it in schools; we’ve recently introduced it to other communities and suburbs around Port Moresby.”
The team’s captain, 41-year-old Diane Vetu, has been playing touch for over 25 years, starting as a 12-year-old under the wisdom and care of Ray, who Daine calls her ‘touch dad’.
“Touch has been a part of my upbringing, I’ve always been out on the field with my dad, and I’ve been with him up until now,” Diane says.
“I brought her up in touch, myself and my wife, that’s why she calls me Dad,” Ray says.
Daine also led the Papua New Guinea team to victory during the Pacific Games this July as team captain, but says there is something special about the Masters Games that set them apart from other competitions.
“I love Masters Games because we play in our age group, at our age level. Being elite, I play with the young ones, because the elite team in PNG is made up of girls who are 10, 20 years younger than me, so I’m the only senior player,” she says.
“So playing in the Masters I get to play with everyone who is the same age as me.”
The passionate team from Port Moresby have left previous Masters Games with multiple gold, silver and bronze medals, but both Ray and Diane say it’s about much more than winning medals.
“I’m 41-years-old, I’m married and I have five children, and I am still playing,” Diane said.
“Reaching all these competitions has been a challenge and a commitment, but it’s paid off and we’ve reached another level – and now we’re here in Adelaide and we love it.”
“We just love touch, we love the game,” Ray says.
“And next year it will be Corporate Touch Port Moresby’s 20th anniversary, so we’ll have a big celebration.
“We’ve always enjoyed the games, and even though this is our first time in Adelaide we’ve really enjoyed ourselves here – the cost is quite excessive but we made a commitment to come this way and so here we are.
“And because touch footy is so loved back home, hopefully in the future we could host the Masters Games in Port Moresby.”
The 15th Australian Masters Games are being held in Adelaide, October 3-10, featuring more than 10,000 participants from across Australia and around the world.
The Australian Masters Games is proudly sponsored by the South Australian Tourism Commission through Events South Australia.
We're heading west! The next Australian Masters Games will take place in Perth in 2021.
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