Sir Hubert Murray Stadium might be considered a little bare bones in the eyes of some punters at present. Because, you know, the seated areas are currently sans seats.
However, there were two things that resonated with me following the women’s soccer final between Papua New Guinea and New Caledonia last night: the first being that this will, in time, become a world-class venue. And the second being that there was certainly nothing bare bones, or missing, from the passion displayed by those there to witness Team PNG bring home another Gold medal.
The passion displayed on-field from both sides was top shelf. 22 players giving it their all in an attempt to win Gold for their country. This though was perhaps matched, or maybe even bettered, by those watching on from the stands.
I’ve been lucky enough to attend a number of sporting events in Australia, where 80,000 or 90,000 spectators have been in attendance. However, the 5,000 odd people who were at Sir Hubert Murray last night would have given your NRL Grand Finals and State of Origin deciders a fair run for their money in terms of the sheer volume of noise being produced.
If the stadium had a roof, or seats, they’d have been shook to their core. There was a moment mid-way through the second half, with a New Caledonian player down injured, where the crowd broke into the Mexican Wave and the cheers could have been heard outside of the National Capital District.
Someone ring the Cliché Police because I’m about to drop a doozy right here: I guess you could say that Papua New Guinea were winners both on and off the field last night.
It was great to see so many smiling faces, and the people of PNG getting behind their sporting heroes.
Let’s hope to see this continue once the XV Pacific Games have come to their conclusion.
Nick Turner is a sport-loving, Australian volunteer based in Port Moresby.