Local team stamps mark in international event

Port Moresby-based rugby league club, Diamond Chiefs, made a grand final appearance in the 2019 ASEAN Nines rugby league tournament recently hosted in the city of Pattaya, Thailand.

The Chiefs were up against tough competition from rival clubs from New Zealand, South Africa and an Irish team boasting players from Australia and native Ireland. In the end, they went head to head with a New Zealand club, but fell short of achieving glory and walking away with the ultimate prize.

This is the third consecutive year since the Chiefs started participating in this international amateur tournament in Asia.

“We made our first appearance in the Hong Kong rugby league 9s tournament in 2017, and came out wining the competition,” said Chairman, Joseph Marius.

“We returned in 2018 to defend our title but were unfortunately knocked out in the semis.”

This year, the team did really well to qualify for the grand final but fell short against the New Zealand team.

Marius is proud of his team’s performance in this year’s competition.

“We did give the New Zealand team a good run for their money until the very end,” he stated.

“Size did matter. Lacking in size, we compensated for this in speed, strength and pure heart and determination to go above and beyond our rivals’ expectations – even our own. In the end gaining favour from the other teams and the crowd, even in loss,” he added.

This year, the executives and team management, led by Marius, opted for a change in scenery and reached out to the organisers of the NRL Asia, ASEAN Pacific 9s Rugby League tournament, to bring the games to Thailand.

The Diamond Chiefs have predominantly comprised of professional working-class men who have the desire to better themselves in their personal, professional and sporting careers.  The goal is to grow and expand the club, and this year, the Chiefs included a few younger players in the squad. Their inclusion improved the team dynamics but the main take away was providing international exposure and broadening their view of the world.

“While it was a sporting trip, I am positive that their experience from this trip was educational and will have a lasting impact on the way they think and see things,” stated Marius.

“The club believes in impacting positive change in the community, and hopefully these young men translate what they have learnt in their personal lives, families, local teams and the community.”

This year, half the team was comprised of players in their early 20s compared to prior years where it was mostly working professionals taking the field.

“Bad lifestyle choices have become a dominant issue among young aspiring professionals and in our youth, therefore part of the Diamond Chiefs’ charter is to provide an avenue to educate this demographic through healthy living and sports.”

Following this successful tour, the Chiefs are already planning for next year and will be engaged in the local community; raising awareness, raising funds, promoting healthier living through sports, and will look to gain momentum as the years progress, and hopefully become an established ambassador for rugby league in Papua New Guinea.

The Diamond Chiefs acknowledged their main sponsor, PNG Air Services Limited, and minor sponsor Bank of PNG. Among many other contributors, the club also acknowledged and appreciated the time and efforts of motivational speaker, Arthur Tane, and PNG Kumul David Mead for the motivational visit.

(The Diamond Chiefs at the Don Muang [Bangkok] International Airport, Thailand)

Press release