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I am an old man – Rugby Union saved my life, its my birthday

In a couple of hours or a liitle more, I will be truly in the old man catergory, so its a little emotional for me as I lay resting in my bed doing some reflecting on my life thus far.

Growing up, I started with good perspective about life and its ups and downs. I was not perfect and made wrong decisions many times, but I can pretty much handle the bad situations in my life.

I was doing ok but when I entered the 40s, things really changed, and went downhill really fast, and I thought very seriously about ending my life. I did not want to live anymore.

I went into depression, I lost a few things, lost my job, and lost a car, which to this day, I have no idea, how it got lost or what I did with it, that if I had given it to someone, or left it somewhere with the engine running. I had an illness, I did not know I had it. My depression was so bad I could not remember things. I was the collateral damage of what was directed at Sir William Skate from 1999 to 2002.

Many times I just sit under the tree and stare blankly.

One day someone found my old gym bag that still had my weight gloves, weight belt, and one two other items in it. This gym bag dated back to the time when I was working for PX in the 80s. I used to go to the Gym then.

It was the first gym ever to be established in Port Moresby, or Png for that matter and was located under the building of what is now the Hideaway Hotel, and it was run by an Australian woman called Debbie Clerk.

Debbie Clerk was the wife of a Kiwi bloke called Clive Clerk, who was famous for Coaching the Tarangau Rugby Team, and one time was the Kumuls Nationsl coach.

I cleaned the Gym Bag, and started going to the Holiday Inn Gym, when it was being managed by Ravu Kila. Ms Ravu Kila was a Fitness Guru, and Instructor and was into the Aerobics dance exercise phenomenon. She was very kind to me.

I had no money to pay for the Gym, so Ravu Kila said if I could help around, clean and Coach Squash, I could use the Gym for free. Thats where I met my good brother Pascoe Vala, where we would play Squash twice a week.

I was slowly getting over the depression as I was attending Court for the charges relating to the Bill Skate Issue.

From 1999 to 2002 I was still facing the Courts, and so the depression still hanged over me. Early in 2002 around February, I attended a Court Case, and the Judge set me free.

I walked from the Courthouse to the Gym.

I did not know how to feel, and my mind was still blank, and when I hit the Gym, I went crazy. I lifted weight, leg press, you name it I did it. I spend the next 4 hours in the Gym. I think that day I bench pressed 150 kilos of weight. I was reaching 140 kilos, but that day driven by the excitement of the Court decision, I broke some sort of record. I lifted 10 kilos, and pressed two times. I could manage only two presses but, man, I was excited.

At 4.30pm that same day, I walked past the Murray Barracks Oval, on the way home and saw the DRUC team training. I saw a familiar figure, my Egu Abel Tore, so I walked in to see him, when I found out that he was the Coach. I asked if I could play.

Able Tore and I played with Barbarians, but earlier on before playing for Barbs, I joined Nick Plummer, Damien Amo and others and we formed the PX Rugby Union Club. It was later called Skyline, but I had already retired f r om playing to concentrate on work.

At 45 years old, I asked if I could play. I told Egu Able Tore I was fit, I did weights everyday, and played Squash with Pascoe Vala twice a week. Egu Able Tore allowed me to play, after almost 17 years absence.

So I played and I was always in the first 15, but I played for only 10 minutes, and than Douglas Papaso would replace me after 10 minutes.

I began enjoying playing Rugby Union, and these beautiful game made me appreciate life again, it restored my life, slowly and surely, it took my depression away.

DRUC won the Grand Final that year in 2002 and I was part of the team. Instead of celebrating with DRUC boys, I went home, had a shower and went to sleep. Later that night I woke up around 11.30pm, and I drive to Clubb 22, looking for Lamp Shanks and cheaps but realised I only had K20.00 on me. I met with the late Carlos Hoot there too, and he was looking for food too. Anyway as the good and kind brother he was, he bought me a lamp shank. I drove to Murray Barracks, drove up to the top of the Commanders Hill, ate my meal of lamb shanks and cheaps, and then jusr sat there until the sun rose.

I drove away and left my illness, my state of depression there on top of the Commanders Hill.

In less than three hours it will be my birthday.

I appreciate Rugby Union saved my life. Now in my coaching life, I see young people, the jobless, the homeless, the pennyless, the no names, the criminals, the wait court boys, using Rugby Union to keep their heads above water. I see Rugby Union gives them joy and they forget that they are hungry, pennyless and they come, they just come to play rugby, because Rugby Union is a thing that makes them happy.

I think of my situation way back then and I feel for the boys I coach, they have their own personal troubles, and that is the reason why, I always talk too much about rugby and this why I fight PngRugby Board. I feel they do not understand that Rugby Union saves lives, not only mine, but the kids who play the game today.So

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