The Vipers did it this year through perseverance, personal commitment and hard work. It was sheer individual effort from the 17 players who played week in week out unlike a consortium support like other franchise in the PNGNRL which benefited from. Vipers are a team who get minimal support from their franchise owner, the City Pharmacy Limited (CPL) Group of Companies compared with other franchise in the Digicel Cup Competition. They get the lowest budgetary funding towards the team compared with other franchise and have the minority fan base compared with other franchise in the PNGNRL Competition.
The players are not fed three times a day, do not train 3 times a day or do not live in a paid accommodation by the franchise. The players train once a day for an hour and earn a match payment, that is if they win. Before a Sunday game they converge at Port Moresby International School for a light lunch and head straight to PRL with no camp outings or team bonding session whatsoever. After the game, they return the jerseys and walk home. On their away games they are paid minimal meal allowance and are left to fend for themselves.
This is a whole new approach that has paid hefty dividend to the Stop & Shop franchise. Despite these uncompromising standard operational procedures, what has come out at the end of the day is a well groomed and drilled outfit that are clinical in all departments with a strong attitude to play footy. The Vipers of this era cannot be compared to the early 90s in the likes of Richard Wagambi, Stanley Haru, Tusky Karu, Late Aquila Emil, Joe Gispe, James Naipo, Kera Gaffin, James Miviri, Arnol Kerewanti and their crew who made 3 years consecutive premiership feat. Better still the boys of today broke the 19 year drought to bring the cup back to the city which must have put a lot of smiles on the faces of these legends. I have personally observed Richard Wagambi openly shedding tears when Vipers were trashed by other franchise in the last preceding years.
The win on Sunday was no fluke as it was a win that was really forged from within the hearts of each player who played their hearts out throughout the season. The character building was phenomenal. Larson Marabe’s sentiment as this victory being sweet as icing on the cake is the best words that can describe the feat which the boys have endured throughout the year. Their off season training since December last year has paid dividend. They had most of the boys coming from the PRL system and had taken them couple of years to bond and gel together in likes of Maki, Abavu, Eliab, Marabe, Koarave and Pandea. From been season pretenders the vipers will be a force to be reckoned with in the coming seasons and will not be easy push overs like yester years. CPL Group of Companies under the Stop & Shop banner has shown a different model of mentoring and management that is totally different from the Gurias style, Mioks way and Tigers system. Whatever it is, a lot can be learned from the Vipers team of 2013.
Well Done Vipers...