A rugby league player from Papua New Guinea is doing his bit to promote the Greatest Game in a new part of Asia.
Timothy Buipe is a 27-year-old who has been playing rugby league since his days as a high school student back in PNG, and he is now teaching people in the Philipines all about the sport.
Buipe’s route into Filipino rugby league actually came about due to him playing the 15-man code when he moved to Philipines to further his education.
“I came to the Philippines to study, and enrolled at Adamson University in 2013 and was studying Customs Administration,” he said.
“Due to a financial set back with sponsors I withdrew from studies and started a small computer shop with my Filipina girlfriend here at Pasay City.
“During my stay here in the Philippines, I was introduced to rugby union by some of my PNG friends. I was playing rugby union in 2014 with the Alabang Falcons team.
“In 2014, I also found out that there is also a rugby league organisation called the Philippines National Rugby League. I was following them closely on their Facebook page.
“At one time I was asking them if they have any local comp here in the Philippines, which was in mid-2014.
“The reply I got was, that there will be a local comp that will be launched in mid-2015. I was waiting in anticipation, but then mid 2015 passed and nothing happened.
“Around early August of 2015, I was sending a message to their FB page again and this time they hooked me up with Paul Sheedy.”
That was when Buipe and his new mate really got stuck into giving rugby league a proper start in the Philippines.
“We have been chatting over facebook for some time and he assured me that there will be an official launch of a PNRL local comp next year in 2016,” he added.
“So I took the initiative to organize Some rugby union boys who are interested to try out rugby league.
“I organised the first rugby league tryout and training session on September 3 at the Luneta Park grand stand area.
“There were about nine union boys who came by to attend the rugby league tryout and training.”
From those small beginnings, things have grown, and there will soon be an international dimension to the project.
The Hong Kong Rugby League Residents XIII is set to visit Manilla in November to play against local side Manilla Storm.
The tour match will take place on Southern Plains Field in Alabang on November 7.
“Most of the boys here are happy and looking forward to play their first Rugby league game with the team coming from Hong Kong in November,” said Buipe.