The PNG Orchids have six days to go before they meet England in their Rugby League World Cup debut next Thursday.
This will be the first competition of this size that a Papua New Guinea Women’s Rugby team will play in.
19-year-old Gloria Kaupa’s family and friends back in Goroka, Eastern Highlands Province will see their daughter, sister and friend carry Papua New Guinea’s name on her shoulders.
Hailing from a mixed parentage of Western and Eastern Highlands provinces, Gloria Kaupa was not one to be swayed by the demands her Grade 12 Secondary school studies presented.
To her, Rugby League training was just as important.
The Orchids Forward, who recently sat for her Grade 12 National Examination at Goroka Secondary School, said her interest in Rugby League came at an early age.
“In primary school, I always watch my cousin brother go for League training and that’s when I thought, I should try out Rugby League and when I joined training I was inspired by the intensity,” said a smiling Kaupa.
The love for the sport blossomed at the age of 14 when Kaupa, took up a rugby ball and never put it back down.
And the decision to continue playing rugby league 4 years on is one she now does not regret.
It took a lot of training and eventually the Highlands Zone Rugby League tournament mid this year, to put the 19-year-old on the Orchids selections radar.
Kaupa was selected to be an Orchid in September.
“It is very demanding, after the trials, I knew I not only have training but exams as well,” said Kaupa.
As a message to other young girls in Papua New Guinea, Kaupa added “Sports is not only for men, women can equally play sports too, you just have to prioritise”.
Speaking of her people back home or what Goroka people like to refer to as hauslain, Kaupa said everyone is just as excited as she is.
Next Thursday, the 19-year-old forward will face England along with her team mates, in their first ever World Cup match in a Triple Header in Sydney.