No matter where they lift, whether it be in Samoa, Australia or in Sweden, Hanuabadans keep a close eye on them.
And it’s not just for Pacific Games too. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the Oceania Games or Commonwealth Games – a mob of varavaras (family) are there to greet them, to house them or even to organise some kaikai.
And even if they’re only on transit for a few hours, varavaras are there to make them feel welcome in “their” city to make them feel at home.
The lifters have been globe trotting since Dika Toua first set foot on the Olympic stage in Sydney.
If money grew like the mangoes outside Douglas Mea’s Hanuabada Weightlifting gym, make no mistake, Hanuabadans could fill up the aircraft to follow a mob that brings so much pride to the village and the nation.
Weightlifting has, at the date of this article, won over 90% of PNG’s Gold medals. They win more Gold than all the sports put together. It’s not something they harp about, they’re gold in heart too. But it’s a fact.
Behind them Hanuabadans barrack them on and always wish them well. They’re family.
The lifters on the other hand don’t really see it as obligatory to win Gold, but they certainly have that feeling that when they lift, they know they got the backing of the entire village.
Don’t get us wrong, Papua New Guineans are behind them too. But there is a special bond that exists. And for those living in other cities around the world, they are no different but it’s extra special. The lifters know that. The excitement of hosting the lifters on foreign land is truly something special.
And the moment they see them lift whether it be in the arena or on the television, Hanuabadans cheer on as if it’s a biological sibling, soon or daughter on centre stage. It’s an indescribable relationship that the lifters have created.
But this kind of closeness is not entirely new. Dating back to the days of the flamboyant Hanuabada Hawks and the PNG cricketers, the team and the village connection extends far beyond Hanuabada to places like Sydney, Auckland and the States.
And the future remains positive with young lifters showing a lot of promise to take over when the likes of Toua and Kari decide on their final lift.
You see, these lifters get little to no help from the Government. If the congratulatory words they have published in the media after each Gold medal win by a lifter, could be converted into real and meaningful financial resources, just imagine what could be…
But for now, the lifters can only control what they can control and likewise their families both in the village and around the world will continue to do what they’ve been doing – continue the varavara. It’s a relationship that’s tightened the bond between lifter and village.
The lifters are forever grateful for the gestures they receive from overseas families. And what better way to put it then the words from Boni Baru, wife of the 3 time Gold medalist in Samoa Morea Baru :
Thank you Family’s and friends in Sydney Australia thank you for everything that you all have done just for us we thank you all from the bottom of our hearts,, Tamada Dirava ese dahaka onege gaudia na ma latadiai baine hanamo laiamui mai emui bese ida ♥️ we love you all and we miss you all♥️💜💙🖤
Pics : B Baru