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James Cook University Brisbane Alumna Continues Legacy Through Community Based Rugby League Team

At James Cook University Brisbane, we try to instil a real community spirit into our students, embracing cultures from all over the globe and celebrating diversity. A recurring theme with our international students is the desire to inspire others from their home country. One student who has taken this to new levels is Michelle Numambo Joseph who has turned to sport to influence change in her native Papua New Guinea. Michelle, daughter of Mary Tali-Joseph and the late Joe Lama Joseph is immensely proud of her heritage and her deep roots with the Gabone Kilivana Rugby League team.

Her father, Joe Lama Joseph, comes from mixed parentage of Gabone Village and Kameneku Tribe, Simbu Province in the Highlands of PNG. Michelle’s mother, Mary Tali-Joseph, is full parentage of Gabone Village. They are from the Boloko and Gimulu Clans respectively in Gabone Village. Throughout Michelle’s upbringing her parents have been an integral part in supporting Gabone Kilivana.

Michelle has fond memories as she recalls her father first taking on the responsibility to manage a local rugby competition in Gabone Village. That was the beginning, but her father was optimistic for the team and did not want to stop at a village level.

“He brought the team to participate at a district level competition at Kwikila Station where it was formally affiliated with the PNGRFL. This was the Southern Zone 9's ‘Somare Cup’ competition which was sponsored by the Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare. My father took the team to the next level; he rallied the boys up and they competed at the Lloyd Robinson Oval, now known as the National Football Stadium of PNG. They were undefeated until they lost in the Cup Finals. They returned the following year and again, unfortunately, finished short at the Cup Finals.” says Michelle.

Studying at James Cook University Brisbane, Michelle was far from the action but wanted to continue supporting a team with whom she grew up. As a former Student Association Leader, Michelle is a well-known and important part of the university community. When she reached out to me for assistance with supporting the Gabone Kilivana Rugby League team, I knew it was a cause we wanted to support. James Cook University Brisbane was able to donate training shirts for every member of the squad.

“To gain the support from a prestigious institution like James Cook University Brisbane is surreal. Even putting on the branded t-shirts makes them feel a part of the JCUB community already. Nonetheless, it definitely boosts their confidence to keep aiming high. I am humbled and proud to share my privilege as a JCUB Alumna with my local community,” Michelle says proudly.

The players have since received these shirts and are thrilled with the donation. In an official statement, a representative of the Gabone Kilivana Rugby League Association said, “The day that all the players have been looking forward to has finally arrived."

As another weekend of footy has come to an end, The Gabone Kilivanas have also wrapped up their first weekend of footy on a high note.

It was a great feeling and sight to see the majority of the community and families come together after almost a decade to witness the first football match with so much hype and enthusiasm.

The players and officials were quite exhilarated to finally put on their t-shirts that were proudly donated by James Cook University Brisbane. As streamed in the video, the entire team of Gabone Kilivana and the Village have extended their gratitude and appreciation once again towards the Management and Staff of JCUB for their invaluable support”.

This wonderful initiative by JCUB Alumna student, Michelle Numambo Joseph is something that everyone at James Cook University Brisbane is proud to be part of. A small donation here in Brisbane, Australia has created a huge impact in Gabone Village, Papua New Guinea bringing a community closer together.

Written by Mr. Tom Collin – Student Marketing Officer for Papua New Guinea at James Cook University Brisbane

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