Sharks and Dogs team up on significant PNG project

A unique project delivered by Sharks Have Heart in partnership with the Canterbury Bulldogs has seen a contingent from the two clubs participate in some important community initiatives in the New Ireland Province of Papua New Guinea.

Development Manager Daniel Holdsworth and NRL squad members Sione Katoa and Ronaldo Mulitalo joined Bulldogs Welfare Manager Steve Pike, former Sharks and Bulldogs players Reni Maitua and Corey Hughes, as well as Jack Cogger and Jayden Okunbor from the current Canterbury team, in undertaking small construction and community projects in the remote PNG province.

The group built a community hall from timber and iron sheeting on Tunnung Island, installed a rain water collection system on Nusalik Island, delivered the Voice Against Violence program to young male students, while visiting a number of villages and schools to present the League In Life program

Australia’s closest neighbour, Rugby League is the national sport in PNG and the trip proved to be a very powerful vehicle in delivering key messages and in providing valuable assistance to the local community.

Students at local schools embraced the presentations from current and former players and their important messages on gender equality, respect, healthy lifestyles and further education.

As for the boys getting the tools out and their hands dirty, the group helped in the construction of the new Tunnung Island community hall, a building which will prove to be a huge asset as an essential facility for community meetings, religious services, legal mediations, health clinics, emergency housing and education and training.

Remote communities are grappling with a multitude of challenges and the new hall is planned to provide the essential platform for the community to meet in a suitable and safe environment.

As for the rain water tank installation on Nusalik Island, with only 40 per cent of the population in PNG having access to safe drinking water and less than 50per cent of the nation to basic sanitation facilities, the new water tank will allow for the collection of rain and provide a valuable source of fresh water for drinking and washing.

Geographic constraints in PNG make it difficult to provide access to clean drinking water and suitable sanitation facilities in the remote rural communities, which has led to a high child mortality rate and high government health care expenditure.

The visit was instigated by the Bulldogs a number of years ago and continued in 2019, with the two NRL clubs to also team up for the first official NRL trial to be held in the region when they face off in Port Moresby on February 22 next year.

For Katoa and Mulitalo, two of the Sharks emerging talents, the trip was a cultural experience neither is likely to forget.