Female athletes pay tribute to late judge Davani

She was one of the most powerful women in Papua New Guinea but yet, the most down-to-earth, open and caring individual you will ever meet.

The death of Justice Catherine Davani shook the country. It was obvious by the tributes pouring in that this woman had touched so many lives with her selflessness.

Female soccer players of the Port Moresby Soccer Association told Loop PNG of how this great judge took them under her wings, guided them like a mother hen and was always there when they needed a shoulder to cry on.

Former PNG Under-20 representative (2012), Lydia Kose, shared of how she was having trouble juggling soccer and school work.

The late ‘aunty Cathy’ noticed Kose’s lack of concentration during a particular University Inter Football Club (UIFC) training session. She then pulled her over to the side and enquired about her situation.

“I told her I was worried about an assignment that was due tomorrow,” says Kose.

“And then she told me: ‘See where I am now? I’m a judge but yet I still play soccer, I still take part in other social activities. Why? Because of time management.

“‘When you’re in school, don’t focus on other things. Prioritise your time.’”

From then on, Kose always remembered aunty Cathy’s advice, which enabled her to take part in international matches.

However, the 24-year-old soon stopped going to the field after she lost her dad in 2012, then her mom in 2014.

“One time I turned up at the field and she told me: ‘Lydia, why are you staying at the house and punishing yourself? I know your mom and dad left you but you have to try and move on.’

“From then on she became more than a manager, a player or coach. She was more than an aunt. She was like a mother to me.”
Kose revealed that the late judge and her husband, John Davani, would give her bus fare, lunch money or pay for her soccer gear.

Another teammate, Pamela Norrie, told Loop PNG: “Through her love for soccer, she grew a very strong relationship with my parents and the Popats and from then on, we, their children, grew up into the UIFC soccer family.

“She was the most down-to-earth person, most well-respected woman yet whenever she was at the training pitch or at the Bisini field, she was simply our teammate and our mother.

“Whenever we were running late for the games, she would drive to the bus stop to pick us up. That’s how much she loved our team.”

Another former PNG representative, Jacqueline Chalau, says when she first met the late aunty Cathy in 2011, she was “moved and filled with pride”.

“Because here stood before me our very own first female judge and to know her was a privilege,” states Chalau.

“Seeing her play and how she displayed herself in public, and also her status in the legal sector, makes me so proud to be a woman. She is an inspiration to us women. She shows that there is no barrier in life.

“I'm so grateful to know such an amazing woman and I'm saddened that she had to leave sooner.”

Chalau’s Guria FC teammate, Jessica Nawi, says she had no idea that the late aunty Cathy was a judge when she first met her in 2009.

“It was because of the way she presented herself,” explains Nawi.

“She had that smile that warms your heart even if she doesn't know you well but as long as you are playing soccer on the same pitch with her. She's the definition of role model.

“She will be truly missed.”

This remarkable and well-loved woman’s legacy will definitely live on.

Rest in eternal peace, aunty Cathy.

(The late Justice Catherine Davani, fifth left, back row, with her UIFC teammates. Pictures supplied)

Carmella Gware