Rugby league in PNG
Meet Meli Jacob, a passionate game development officer within the Team Up-supported League Bilong Laif (League for Life) program in Papua New Guinea (PNG), who has spent more than a decade dedicating herself to empowering communities through the power of rugby league.
Meli’s journey with League Bilong Laif began in 2014, when she started as a volunteer before transitioning to a casual staff position. As a result of her commitment and dedication to the program, Meli is now a full-time game development officer, playing an important role in delivering the program across various schools and communities in Port Moresby.
One of the most rewarding aspects of her job, according to Meli, is the opportunity to use rugby league to teach children about the importance of education and respect.
“What I love most about my role is going out to the schools and teaching kids, both boys and girls, about the importance of education and respect.
“We deliver the program to all genders, including children with different abilities. It’s fulfilling to see them come together and enjoy the program.”
Reflecting on her personal journey, Meli reveals that she left school in grade three but, through her involvement with League Bilong Laif, she has experienced significant personal growth and development.
“I have benefitted a lot since joining this program. It has taught me and given me confidence in speaking proper English. It has also taught me how to use a computer and write and submit reports.”
League Bilong Laif is the largest and longest-running Australian Government-supported sport for development program in PNG, having launched in 2013.
In 2022 alone, the program made a substantial impact by engaging more than 13,188 participants (nearly half of whom were women and girls) across four regions of PNG, reflecting the program's commitment to promoting gender equality and inclusion.
Beyond its direct impact on participants, League Bilong Laif also plays a significant role in the professional and personal development of its staff, like Meli.
By providing employment opportunities and avenues for skills enhancement, the program contributes to the growth and empowerment of individuals within the community, particularly women in rugby league.