Assad Vala, the HEBOU PNG Barramundis and the Girls Empowerment Through (GET) Kriket Program were announced as finalist for the 2017 SP Sports Awards this week.
HEBOU PNG Barramundis’ Captain and batting star, Assad Vala was named as a finalist for the ‘Male Athlete of the Year’ category, alongside Morea Baru (Weightlifting) and Justin Olam (Rugby League).
Vala made his mark on the international cricket scene in 2016 after having a stellar year with the bat for the HEBOU PNG Barramundis. Vala finished the year in second place in the ICC Inter-Continental Cup (ICUP) runs scorers on 559 runs at an amazing average of 93.17 runs after four (4) rounds. Only Ed Joyce (Ireland), former English Test Player was ahead of him. In the ICC World Cricket League Championships (WCLC), Vala finished the year on 312 runs from eight (8) matches with a healthy average of 44.57 with the bat.
Playing in their third South Australian Cricket Association (SACA) Premier League, Vala (13 votes) came second in the SACA Premier League Most Outstanding Player Award with Willie Gavera (11 votes) tied for third position.
Vala capped off a remarkable year by being appointed captain of the HEBOU PNG Barramundis for the Namibia matches in Port Moresby and the ODI Series in Hong Kong.
Vala will be vying for his second ‘Male Athlete of the Year Award’ after he won the award at the 2013 SP Sports Awards.
“Assad (Vala) showed his class last year on the international stage, putting himself and PNG on the map on the global cricket stage. To be averaging over 90 runs with the bat in the ICUP is remarkable and showed everyone that is clearly one of the best batsmen in Associate Cricket World,” said Cricket PNG’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Greg Campbell.
The HEBOU PNG Barramundis’ outstanding 2016 year was also recognised and was selected as one of the finalist for the ‘Team of the Year’ category alongside the PNG Kapuls (Soccer) and SP PNG Hunters (Rugby League).
The HEBOU PNG Barramundis had arguably their best year to date, playing 23 matches against Ireland, Kenya, Namibia, SACA Premier League Teams, Tasmania, Western Australia, Queensland and Hong Kong.
In the ICC Intercontinental Cup, the HEBOU PNG Barramundis lost to Ireland by 145 runs despite a brilliant century from Vala (120) in the first innings of the Round 3 fixture in Townsville, Australia. In the Round 4 fixture against Namibia, the HEBOU PNG Barramundis bounced back, defeating the Africa nation by 199 runs at home, thanks to another century from Assad Vala (144*).
In the ICC World Cricket League Championships (WCLC), the HEBOU PNG Barramundis were undefeated in all four (4) matches played against Kenya (Round 3) and Namibia (Round 4).
Playing in their third South Australian Cricket Association (SACA) Premier League, the HEBOU PNG Barramundis finished a very respectable third out six (6) teams.
Also,the HEBOU PNG Barramundis took on three (3) Australian State First Class Teams in 50 Over matches in Maroochydore. Although the HEBOU PNG Barramundis were unable to register any wins, they competed very well against some of the best First Class Cricketers in Australia. The obvious highlight was when the HEBOU PNG Barramundis nearly chased down 323 against Western Australia when Vani Vagi Morea (96) nearly got the Barramundis home.
In the ICC ICUP competition, the HEBOU PNG Barramundis finished the year in fourth (4th) place on 40 points and in equal first (1st) place in the ICC WCLC competition.
“The HEBOU PNG Barramundis went from strength to strength last year and they have a wonderful opportunity to finish in the top four of both the ICUP and WCLC this year. Credit must go to the High Performance Department, lead by Rarua Dikana and Head Coach, Dipak Patel, coaches and the players for their hard work and professionalism this year ,” said Campbell.
Finally, Cricket PNG’s Girl’s Empowerment Through (GET) Kriket Program was selected as one of the finalist for the ‘Community Sports Initiative’ category alongside Hoops for Health (Basketball) and League Bilong Laif (Rugby League).
The GET Kriket Program is a sports development program supported by the Australian Government through the Pacific Sports Partnership Program.
The Program targets secondary school age girls and has two main aims, which are (1) to increase female participation in playing hard ball cricket and (2) empower them through educational sessions conducted by our various partners about social and health messaging
“We are very proud that cricket was named as finalist in three (3) of the categories for the 2017 SP Sports Awards. Last year was a challenging but very rewarding at the same time for CPNG both domestically and internationally. We are proud that cricket is represented heavily in the 2017 SP Sports Awards,” concluded Campbell.
The 2017 SP Sport Awards will be held on Saturday 27th May at the Stanley Hotel where the winners in all twelve (12) categories will be announced. This year will mark the 25th Anniversary of the SP Sports Awards, which recognises PNG’s top sporting personalities and teams both on the international and the domestic level.