Can one team change a country’s mindset?

There are only three common denominators in this country: God, Tok Pisin and rugby league.

This is the opening statement in the new rugby league documentary that will soon premiere in PNG.

A powerful and inspiring film, Power Meri follows the journey of the PNG Orchids from inception to the world stage.

Through the voices of pioneering players from the inaugural 2017 squad, viewers will get an in-depth look at these women’s humble beginning, their passion in the game of rugby league and challenges faced as female athletes in a male-dominated sport.

The film was launched at an exclusive preview screening at the University of Papua New Guinea on October 3rd, attended by former and current PNG Orchids players and hosted by the US Ambassador, Catherine Ebert-Gray.

Power Meri is directed by Joanna Lester, a former journalist who moved to PNG in 2014 to work in media roles within rugby league.

The film is shot by a small crew of Australians and Papua New Guineans in Port Moresby, Lae, Goroka and Australia.

It explores the broader social impact of the Orchids through themes of women’s empowerment, national identity, prejudice, resilience and hope.

It tries to make PNG understand that great teams start small and it takes years of hard work and sacrifice to become better.

Lester hopes the film will help change attitudes about how people view the strength and leadership potential of women.

“I also hope the story of the Orchids, a group of pioneering women putting their hands up to be part of something new and exciting despite criticism and barriers, will inspire audiences everywhere.”

The film will also be released internationally, and Lester further hopes that it will give global audiences a new appreciation and understanding of PNG – a country that is rarely portrayed on the big screen.

Power Meri will premiere at the PNG Human Rights Film Festival this month, before being released at Paradise Cinemas in Port Moresby and screened in communities across the country.

Carmella Gware