By Melton Pais
Education is not the only an avenue that brings forth the qualities of a man to be who he aims to be but there are other avenues like sport that can build up a man.
For 19 year-old Stanton Albert, who hails from Sol-Yare village in Upper Mendi, Southern Highlands, he is living a life every rugby league player in Papua New Guinea dreams of living.
Despite leaving school to focus on football, Albert took the chance he was given by the SP Hunters after first being taken in by local Digicel Cup franchise, the Kemele Hela Wigmen.
The burly prop left year 10 at Mendi High School last year to strike a path as a professional footballer and so far the progression has been nothing if not rapid.
Albert, who stands at 185cm and weighs around 108kg, is certainly big enough to cart the ball up but his age and the way he has adjusted to his position as a rising talent of the game has been the something scouts have taken into consideration.
Quite simply, Albert is the modern day prototype for a professional player coming out of PNG: young, big, fit, disciplined and hungry.
It helps that Stanton joint elder brother Wellington, 21, at Penrith Panthers club in NRL Australia on a two-year deal that will end 2017 January.
Stanton started attracting interest after his player of the tournament performance for the PNG U19s at the Commonwealth Games Nines Championship earlier this year in Glasgow, Scotland.
Albert added a string of credible performances whenever he was called on by Hunters coach Michael Marum during the Q-Cup season and that coupled with the fact that he was a teenager and full of promise meant he would go far in the game.
Another notch to Albert’s belt was his involvement with the Prime Minister’s XIII side this year and the knowledge that he had helped in part the Hela Wigmen to their maiden premiership.
“I want to thank the SP PNG Hunters team management and also the coaching staff for giving me this chance,” Albert said this last year December before leaving for Australia for his two-year contract.
“The opportunity that was given to me to play for Penrith Panthers U20s is like a dream come true for me. It is something that I have always wanted to do (play for an NRL club.”
“It is not only my dream but also my elder brother Wellington’s dream that we would one day play in one NRL club just like Josh and Bret Morris at the Canterbury Bulldogs in NRL.”
He said their dream was not for nothing as Wellington joined the Panthers last and this had inspired him.
Albert said playing in any level at the NRL was a big thing that clearly shows that PNG young stars have skills and talents in Rugby.
“This is going to be an achievement for both of us and a fulfillment of a dream to play together,” Albert said.
He said during his time with the Hunters, he made it a point to listen and learn from his coaches and trainers and believes this was what enabled him to perform at a high level and be chosen for a contract.
Albert is continuing his education in Penrith so the sacrifice has paid off in more ways than one.
Marum has backed Albert saying the youngster had a bright future ahead of him.
“There are not many, if any others who are playing front row in the Q-Cup at 19. I’m not sure if the Panthers fully realize what they have got in this kid but he has got it all and being with his brother in Sydney will help both of them to play their best footy next year,” Marum said.
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