Pic: Dadi Toka Jnr

I’m not sure what exactly it is but I just had this urge to write this piece because over the weekend a number of things happened that convinced me that this piece just had to be written.

On Friday PNG Cricket announced the 14 man squad to tour New South Wales. A nephew made it to the side and he just happened to be the only uncapped player selected. That was Friday.

On Saturday, I took him out for lunch just to congratulate him on his selection because he’s worked hard to get the selectors attention.

Driving back from lunch, there was a large crowd at the Sir Hubert Murray Stadium witnessing the The Late Arua Rarua Liklik Cricket Competition Grand Final.

The next day, I got an inbox from a good friend Dadi Toka Jnr showing me some of the shots he took of the Liklik Cricket grand final on his drone.

The pictures as you will see below are impressive and these pics just convinced me that this piece had to be written. No ifs no buts.

So what is this LikLik Cricket competition and how did it come about?

For starters, most if not all the Hanuabada players in the recently selected Barramundis team are a product of this competition.  Current players include Vani Vagi Morea, Lega Siaka, Sese Bau and Mahuru Dai to name a few.

It’s amazing to see this village based competition being the breeding ground for national selection.

The Liklik Cricket Competition was an initiative of the Late Arua William Rarua.  A staunch cricket supporter, former player and administrator, I’m grateful to have been around the time he was thinking about introducing this competition to the young villagers of Hanuabada.

I remember the Late William Arua Rarua discussing at length with my father about the possibility of introducing this competition. My father, then, was the President of the United Cricket Club and that club had just been reinstated to the Port Moresby cricket competition after many years in the doldrums.

Despite the village having a representative in the city competition, Arua Rarua saw two major problems in the cricketing structure.  The first was that the Port Moresby competition’s junior grade was limited to Under 19.  Those aged 10 to 18 hardly had any chance of making it into a more organised competition.  Their only option was to play in the village but back then there was no organised competition for the juniors.

The second problem was that there wasn’t any organised competition at schools bar the IEA schools. Much of the village cricket juniors attended the local community schools so there was very little or no opportunity to participate in an organised competition.

Part of Arua Rarua’s vision was to provide these youngsters an opportunity to participate in an organised competition and develop their skills at an early age.  He believed that waiting until 19 years was simply too late.

Around mid 90’s the IEA schools introduced Australia’s junior cricket version “Kanga” cricket program and this further convinced the soon to be Liklik Cricket founder that a similar competition had to be introduced at the village based level.

When the word got around that Liklik Cricket was about to be introduced in the village, it became an instant hit with both the kids and parents. In a way, the competition gave parents to pay more attention to their kids. In fact, such was the level of excitement of this competition, some parents went to the extent of ensuring their kids ate well and slept well before the next day’s match. The level of enthusiasm had never before been experienced since the glory days of the villages rugby league team Hanuabada Hawks.

The Late Arua Rarua often chatted with my father on Monday nights at the Aviat Club because Monday nights were “Keydraw” nights. I don’t recall either of them winning any of the keydraws but the opportunity to have a chat over village sports issues was always much look forward to.  They shared ideas a lot and on many occasions they would discuss the sporting heroes of the past and how they could make Hanuabada sport a success story.

My father was more of a league person but became a cricket administrator while Sale (pronounced SAR-LEH) as my father would call him had two passions: Cricket and Music. In fact, I recall Sale mentioning once that his Gunina clan was gifted in only two things: Cricket and Music.

The Late Arua Rarua was semi-retired. I say semi-retired because although he had “retired” from formal employment/business he still ran a small village trade store.  He would often sit on a platform opposite the trade store and just watch kids bowling, hitting the ball and fetching for the ball under the village stilt houses.

Some would say that while sitting on the platform he would just be relaxing watching the kids play cricket. But little did we know that while he was sitting down observing, he was planning to execute a competition that would make village boys travelling the world playing a game they learnt in the village.

Sadly, Sale passed away in 2006 in a nasty motor vehicle accident.  Some thought his passing would be the end of this much loved cricket program but fortunately that has not been the case.

Sale’s deputy and another Hanuabada cricket icon Seura Loa has single-handedly managed the competition up till now, Liklik cricket continues to achieve the dreams of its founder. The competition is now known as The Late William Arua Rarua Liklik Cricket Competition.

Seura Loa, better known as Seuki is a living legend. Despite the lack of resources, Seuki continues to run the competition with the same enthusiasm he had when the competition’s founder was on the driving seat. His house is the headquarters of Liklik Cricket much like its founder’s trade store.

Seuki himself was a talented cricketer in his days having played for United Cricket Club. They used to call him “Rescue” because of his ability to rescue the team at times when the chips were down. Unlike rescuing the competition, Seuki has stepped up to continue where Sale left off.

I remember once my dad asking Sale who he thought was Hanuabada’s greatest ever sports man. Sale, paused, and then said there were many to name in various sports. Hanuabadans just tended to excel in many sports but if there was one person who was good at many sports, he said it had to be “Mea Boe”. In his words, Sale said “Mea Boe was a champion. He could pick up the rugby ball and he would score tries. He’d pick up a cricket bat and he’d score runs. Throw him the boxing gloves and he could knock anyone out. I haven’t seen anyone that good in many sports”.

Mea Boe’s great grandson, Vagi Boko Kora is the only uncapped player for the recently announced PNG Barramundis tour of New South Wales.

If there’s a keydraw in heaven tonight, it’s unlikely either Sale or TK’s keys will be drawn as the winner. But that won’t stop them from having a few beers, a chuckle and no doubt wishing the Barramundis all the best!

The PNG Barramundis fixtures for the Australian tour are as follows:

#Wed 8th February, 2017- against NSW XI (50 Over) @ Blacktown, sydney
#Sun 12th February, 2017- against NSW XI (50 Over) @ Hustville Oval
#Mon 13th February, 2017- against NSW XI (T20) @ Blacktown
#Wed 15th February, 2017- against ACT XI (T20) @ Manuka Oval, Canberra

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