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Gabriel Minoga: Willie’s try was a huge consolation for the family

At about the 75th minute, Gabriel Minoga, had lost hope that the PNG Hunters would secure the 2017 Grand Final against the Falcons.  
The father of the PNG Hunter’s try scorer who  secured the win was feeling uneasy as he stood up to watch the rest of the game from the back of the room. He didn’t think  Papua New Guinea would get the Intrust Super Cup in their grand final  debut.
“After the 10-nil score, it put me off. I was a player myself in school and when  two easy tries are scored in the first half, it has a huge impact on the minds of the players.
“I was discouraged and uncomfortable.
“Then I saw Ase Boas on the other side. He kicked the ball but it didn’t go as I was expecting. Somehow he kicked it from the right. I couldn’t see Willie. He came out of nowhere.”  
Seeing an opportunity, Willie, “the Freight Train” Minoga, had pummeled through a barricade of Falcons at lightning speed. When the ball came down,   he fell on top of it near the uprights.

“We didn’t even know it was Willie.  Only after the video referee played the try three times we realized Willie had put the try.”
In Wapenamanda, the place erupted!
“I was in shock! People were crying and breaking beer bottles. They were shaking hands with me. Among all those who cried, I cried the loudest.
“Hey… I’m the father, I was on top of the world! I always want my son to be the  best and I was very proud.”

Gabriel Minoga, has been a teacher most of his life after graduating from the Goroka teacher’s college in 1975. In the last 10 years, he has held various positions in the Enga Provincial Administration. 
While the country celebrated the historic win, not many people outside of  Wapenamanda understood the significance of the that one try and the Hunter’s win. For the Minoga family it meant a lot.
Gabriel Minoga was an assistant  presiding officer in the 2017 elections. In July, the election violence reached its peak. Candidate supporters shot two police mobile squad members.The violence then spread from Wabag to Wapenamanda.
As part of the administration,Gabriel Minoga,was caught in the midst of the election conflict. The Minoga family home was one of several burnt in the attack.
“I lost everything.My trade store was flattened.Our house was destroyed. Even seven pigs for Willie’s future bride price were killed.

 “I wasn’t happy. I couldn’t go to the grand final feeling like that.”
But it wasn’t the first time such  destruction had affected the family.   Twenty years ago, during the 1997 elections, the family suffered a similar  attack. Their previous home was also burned.
“I didn’t do anything. Nobody was arrested for it and we had to rebuild.”
Gabriel Minoga’s strength of character  is  amazing. It shone through despite  the negativity around him. 
“This try came as a huge consolation for the family after what we went though.  Seeing what Willie did for his people and his country… Seeing the people happy… seeing the province happy… What’s the point of being angry?
“What they did to me is minor.I’ve forgiven them.”
Gabriel Minoga,remains, a father to his boy, despite his son’s rugby league success.
“I expect him to play rugby for at least two or three years. Then he has to get some education, find a job,settle down and enjoy his life.
“You know, he’s not married yet.”

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