By Vasinatta Yama – EM TV News, Mt Hagen
The 19th Highlands Volleyball Tournament kick-started today in Mt Hagen City.
Thirty-two teams will be participating in the four-day volleyball tournament. The tournament started this afternoon and will continue over the weekend, ending on Monday. The participating teams travelled to Mt Hagen from Ramu in Madang Province, Eastern Highlands, Chimbu, Jiwaka and Mt Hagen.
Despite the dull weather today, a small ceremony was held at Queens Park Oval to begin the tournament. Hagen District Sports Association President, Simon Kama, welcomed the visiting teams and urged local and national leaders to utilise the youth in sports for urban development.
Highlands Volleyball Tournament started back in 1999 with a group of like-minded people like Brian Owa, the current Highlands Volleyball Association Secretary. Owa said since Rugby League was and is still a dominant sporting code in the Highlands, they introduced volleyball so that people from the Highlands can be involved in other sporting activities.
The sport has already gained popularity in the Highlands but it still lacks funding.
The participants are mostly youths who have used their own money to travel the distance just to socialise with their peers in other parts of the Highlands Region.
This year, Enga, Hela and Southern Highlands Province will not participate. The tournament will end on Monday, and the winners of the male and female team will go home with a trophy each.