Kato Ottio’s life celebrated

The life of late PNG rugby star Kato Ottio was celebrated today at his home in Tatana Village just outside Port Moresby.

Hundreds gathered to commemorate the first anniversary of his death with his family and friends, including the management of the PNG Rugby Football League and the PNG Hunters train-on squad.

Significant to the occasion was the opening of his mother’s house; a dream that late Ottio always had.

Mixed emotions played at the gathering in Tatana Village today to celebrate the life of the Kumul number 269.

It was one of happiness that Ottio’s life and even his death brought blessings to his family.

It was also one of sadness that a year has passed since the young star passed away tragically.

His former teammates and some new faces in the PNG Hunters’ train-on squad accompanied the PNGRFL management to Tatana Village to pay their respects and witness the opening of his mother’s new three-bedroom house.

Chairman of the SP PNG Hunters Graham Osbourne and PNGRFL CEO Reatau Rau were given time to speak, and they encouraged the children to follow in the footsteps of Ottio, who was disciplined and committed to his sporting career.

“Sacrifice, keep persevering and be patient, you will realise your dream. Whatever you aspire in life like Kato, you can achieve it,” said Rau.

Even in death, Late Ottio finally achieved his dream of building his mother a house that she could call her own.

His mother Joyce Ottio said the three-bedroom house was built in 8 to 9 months.

“I spent about 60 to 70 thousand kina already. The house is not completed. I have more work yet to do. I want to thank everyone who contributed towards having the house built.

“Thank you to all the individuals who made contributions, especially the Canberra Raiders and the Widnes Vikings in England. It will be occupied by myself and my children.

“Kato’s family from his father’s side are also welcome in my home,” a happy Mrs Ottio said.

The late star’s head stone was also unveiled by his namesake, Kato Udia.

Team members of the SP PNG Hunters train-on squad and the PNGRFL management laid flowers at the foot of his headstone.

It was quite emotional for the players who knew him personally and played alongside him during his time with the Hunters.

SP PNG Hunters Head Coach Michael Marum said after the unveiling that Ottio’s death has certainly taught them some important, but hard lessons.

“For me, with football I learnt a few lessons, especially put some rules this year. We are not allowing our current players that have been in the national team to come in and train with us; with the new squad – not after what we went through last year.

“That’s one big lesson for us as coaching staff. As well as that, any player that comes in and trains with us, has to be medically fit and cleared,” said Coach Marum.

Marum also said the team will continue to visit Ottio’s grave as long as they can.

(Joyce Ottio walks towards her new house at Tatana)

Salome Vincent