Best wishes to Olam from Simbu

History will once again be made as PNG international, Justin Olam, takes the field in Sunday’s NRL grand final.

He will be the second Papua New Guinean to play in an NRL grand final with Melbourne Storm; following closely in the steps of his inspiration – Marcus Bai.

The 26-year-old Simbu man wears his heart on his sleeves every time he takes the field. He knows his country, and especially his family back home, closely watch his every move; celebrating and crying with him every step of the way.

Though he is in his Melbourne Storm colours, PNG’s red, black and gold always shine through.

While die hard supporters confirm their plans for this Sunday, it is a very different affair in Simbu, especially at Koge, where Olam had spent a good part of his childhood. Feasts, drinks and large gatherings in front of screens and projectors will be a huge part of Sunday’s evening program.

Proud tribesmen and former teachers emotionally conveyed their best wishes to the incumbent PNG Kumul centre, assuring him of their undivided support.

“Mi gat bikpla hart stret lo Justin olsem em ripresentim distrik blo mi na go,” said Joshua Allai, a rugby player from Dinga village in the Sinesine-Yongomugl district. “Congrats lo Justin na wish you all the best lo grand final blo yu.”

“Mipla olgeta bois stap lo hia em ol bois blo Justin em stap. Justin Olam em no plei lo Australia na em go lo Melbourne Storm,” said Isaac Bakahu.

“Em no plei lo wanpla fida klab lo Australia tu. Fresh lo Papua New Guinea stret em ron lo Australia na em go lo NRL na mipla praud olsem wanpla prodak blo SSY ron lo Melbourne Storm na mipla olgeta bois blo em mipla hamamas stret lo Justin Olam.”

Bakahu said even if the Storm do not make it, they will always be proud of Olam and will continue to strive to be like him.

Olam’s former biology teacher and sports coordinator, Julie Mane, from Rosary Secondary School, said: “Justin Olam, from the Rosarian community here at Kondiu, we would like to wish you all the best in your game and you know that this month is a Marian month and we will pray for you, and we know that you will be part of a successful team on Sunday.”

“Where there is infinity, there is no stop,” said Olam’s former advanced math teacher, David Olkin. “And from the maths teacher, I would like you to excel and continue as you used to do in your games, and make Rosarians proud. We wish you all the best.”

Locals from Koge passionately relayed their support as well, saying a public holiday should be declared if their team wins.

(Locals from Koge voicing their support for Justin Olam)

Carmella Gware