Papua New Guinea Orchids seek to change attitudes back home with World Cup run

PAPUA NEW GUINEA are looking to not only win matches but also change attitudes towards women back home in this World Cup.

After beating Canada and Brazil over the past week, the Orchids finish their group-stage campaign at Headingley on Wednesday against host nation England with the winner topping Group A.

This is their second World Cup appearance, after losing all three matches in their first in 2017 when they were playing their very first competitive internationals.

While Papua New Guinea is infamously passionate for Rugby League, the same level of support does not yet exist for the women’s game, with the traditional attitudes of many people continuing to hold it back.

“I couldn’t play when I was living with my family back home, because of the culture and stuff like that that we had,” captain Elsie Albert told League Express. 

“When I left my parents and started going to university, that’s when I started playing as I was living on my own.”

Albert believes that the visibility provided by the World Cup could help change attitudes, and already saw evidence of that when England played a drawn two-Test series there in 2019.

“I come from Papua New Guinea, I played in Papua New Guinea, and then I got selected to play in Australia,” said the St George Illawarra prop. 

“For me to come from that type of environment and play in Australia, it sends a picture back home, where a woman can do everything. 

“We’re not just meant to stay at home and do chores. For me, to be in Australia and be playing good footy sends a message that a woman can do more.

“I think we’ve moved from that standing where people see women as second to men and are supposed to be staying at home. 

“After 2019, given that we beat England, we got a lot of support from not only the female folks but the men folks as well. That means a lot.

“We want to be competitive in this World Cup. I think if we do that it would win more support back home as well.”