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June 16, 2021
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From Football to Rugby League, Martha Karl Turning Heads

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This is the Story of Martha Karl.

Unlike the rest of the Oil Search PNG Orchids players, playing at a World Cup stage is not new to Martha.

Just last November; this young woman was part of PNG’s Under 20 Women’s Football Team that took on the FIFA under 20 Women’s World right here in Papua New Guinea.

And now, she is an Orchid.

From the playing grounds at Admin Compound in Lae, Morobe Province, to the two biggest playing fields in Football and Rugby league for any woman in Papua New Guinea.

20-year-old Martha Karl can tell that story as a young sports woman.

It was just last November that this Simbu lass ran alongside the likes of Nicollette Ageva, Ramona Padio and Olive Upaupa in the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup.

Now, a year later, Karl is once again on a mission to make a name for Papua New Guinea on the World Stage.

The switch between codes came as circumstances beyond her control prompted her to step onto a Rugby field once more.

“When PNG Football broke up last year, there was PNGFA and FFPNG. Previously Lae Football Association was under PNGFA , so normally I go close by, just in the city to play, but when LFA got suspended, playing fields were moved up to 11 mile and I couldn’t go there every day, so I went back to rugby League,” said Karl.

A Sports enthusiast as she is, nothing stopped her from playing, and her rugby league stint in 2014 began with the Eriku Panthers in Lae and a year later, the Morobe Tigers.

That brought her to the 2015 National Zone Championship, that was also in Lae.

Little did she know, she was turning heads not only from one, but three codes’ national team selectors; the PNG Women’s U20 Team, the AFL Flames and indeed her name was already tossed around for Rugby League Representative duties.

For her, when it’s off-season in one sport, it’s on in another.

Even her selection to be part of this year’s AFL Flames outfit came through early this year but Karl dropped the opportunity due to financial constraints.

And now reflecting on her sporting journey, the 20-year-old said, it was always AFL, Football or Rugby League.

“Many young girls are taking up sports but most fail to dedicate time to training,” Karl observed.

But even Sports has not stopped her from continuing her studies.

Having completed grade 12 at Goroka Grammar School last year, Karl is currently matriculating.

Next Saturday, she will run out as an Orchid to face England in Papua New Guinea’s Women’s RLWC debut.

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