Huge consolation for Minoga family caught in poll-related violence
By JOE GURINA
WITH a minute remaining on the clock, many Papua New Guineans had given up hope and then Willie “The Wapenamanda Mac Truck” Minoga’s miracle try came and the nation erupted.
So while the country celebrated the historic win by the SP PNG Hunters in the Queensland Intrust Super Cup last week, not many people outside of Wapenamanda understand the significance of that “one try”.
For the Minoga family, it meant a lot.
Willie’s winning try set of the celebrations last Sunday. It was the try that brought the nation together.
For his dad Gabriel Minoga, the try his son scored, came as a huge consolation for his family. It brought together a nation. At a time when the Minoga family home and properties were destroyed relating to the election-related violence, Willie’s dad has forgiven those involved saying the try his son scored has brought consolation to his family and the nation.
He was an assistant presiding officer in the 2017 elections and was caught in the middle of election violence which led to the destruction of the family home which Willie Minoga grew up in.
“I lost everything,” he said. “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 has 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,” he said.
“Seeing what Willie did for his people and country, what they did to me is minor. What’s the point of being angry?
“I’ve forgiven them.”
At about the 75th minute mark, Gabriel Minoga, had lost hope that the PNG Hunters would win the 2017 grand final against the Falcons.
He was feeling uneasy as he stood up to watch the rest of the game from the back of the room. He didn’t think PNG would get the Intrust Super Cup in their debut grand final.
“I was discouraged and uncomfortable,” he said.
“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 , scooted through a barricade of Falcons players 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 scored the try,” he said.
“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.
“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?
Gabriel Minoga’s strength of character is amazing. It shone through despite the negativity around him.
“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.”