Loop PNG accompanied AFL PNG academy player and welfare manager Willie Yogomin, and AFL players to the prison, located at the outskirts of the nation’s capital yesterday.
When we entered the prison gates, the young boys eagerly greeted us with excited smiles, and led us into the meeting room, to meet the officer in charge of the juveniles, Hannington Yaya.
They were all seated at one corner of the room, used also as a library, Yaya, Yogomin and I spoke to them, but from the looks on their faces they could not wait to get on the field.
After the presentation of the AFL PNG t-shirts, the boys hit the turf with warm-ups and a game of AFL.
Kelly Kaugla, Michael Weiteli and Ian Karme from AFL PNG led the boys to do their stretches.
Their laughter and voice echoed around the high fence of the quiet prison walls, and it showed how the sport had made them forget their wrongdoings and the realty surrounding them.
Yogomin who had spearheaded the program since last year said every Monday it brings tears to his eyes because the communities must not forget these teenagers because they have committed a crime.
“We (the community) must help them to change and they will be good ambassadors when they finish their time in prison.”
He appealed to the business community and kind individuals to help the AFL PNG office to run the program.
Yogomin also thanked Plumbers and Builders Hardware for the donation of paints which was used to repaint the meeting room.
The officer in charge of the juveniles is confident the program will help to rehabilitate the troubled teenagers.
“Apart from learning to play AFL the young boys do yoga, these programs will help to change them,” Yaya said.
He added that they also organised devotions and drug abuse workshops to educate the juveniles about the effect of drug abuse.