As the Papua New Guinea (PNG) national anthem echoed at the Oman Cricket Academy in their first qualifier game of the T20 World Cup, the emotion that touched each and every PNG player and support staff commenced a moment that was a long time coming.
With that, PNG became the 24th nation to take part in the men’s ICC World Cup event.
PNG may not be a name that is so well known amongst the biggest of cricket followers out there, but the love for the game, the passion and the unity of each player exceed boundaries.
Their fondness towards cricket did not develop overnight, instead, the love and passion for cricket have been integrated into their blood for ages before they achieved independence from Australia in 1975.
The rich cricketing culture in Australia allowed the game of cricket to reach the people of PNG before their independence.
In the modern era, to take a look at the epicentre for the emergence of cricket in PNG and their love towards the game, we can visit the village of ‘Hanuabada’ in PNG located at the outskirts of the country’s capital, Port Moresby.
Hanuabada, which translates to ‘Big Village’ in English, has played a more than a substantial role for PNG to reach the World stage through cricket.
To emphasize how a single village can have such a huge impact on a cricket team, many will be surprised to know the fact that the majority of the PNG cricketers belong from the coastal village of Hanuabada.
In a village where fishery is the main way how the people earn their bread and butter, some have taken the passion for the game of cricket a step further. Their love and enthusiasm for the game have gifted their nation their very first national cricket team.
The celebration and the signing of the praises of each other in every wicket taken, every run saved and every boundary hit, showcases how the PNG team is here in the World Cup to live every moment of it.
Assad Vala and his men have shown the world how a group of men united for a single mission can take them to places and the village of Hanuabada will forever be a part of this inspiring journey.
As the PNG team exited the World Cup today after a heavy defeat against Bangladesh, this was rather a historic moment for them being their first encounter against a Test-playing nation.
All these achievements will surely act as a transformational sequence of events for the game of cricket back home as the PNG players can tell the tales of their experience to their countrymen who will be eager to hear from them-- from playing for the first time in a World Cup, captain Assad Vala scoring a World Cup fifty, to playing against a Test-playing nation.
Who knows all these fairy tale stories can also ignite the passion for cricket in someone else as well in the beautiful village of Hanuabada.