A powerful women’s rugby league documentary film, which has received rave reviews at international film festivals, was screened in Bolton last week.
Power Meri follows the journey of Papua New Guinea’s first Women’s Rugby League team, the PNG Orchids, on their journey to the 2017 World Cup in Australia.
Civic and business leaders attended the special screening of the film at the Light Cinema to watch the inspirational story of an extraordinary group of women.
The screening is part of Bolton’s commitment to take the game to its heart in the run up to the Rugby League World Cup 2021.
The Papua New Guinea team were trailblazers and not only had to beat the sporting competition, but also intense sexism, a lack of funding, and national prejudice to reach their biggest stage yet.
The film screening brought together those involved in the campaign and others who are delivering Bolton’s programme of activities which aims to promote the event and encourage local communities to take up the sport.
Cllr Anne Galloway, Bolton Council’s Executive Cabinet Member, said: “Power Meri shows what can be achieved against the odds and inspires those who face barriers to getting involved in sport.
“Hopefully Bolton being chosen as a host venue for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup will encourage local people to take up the sport. It will also create exciting new opportunities, including those when we start recruiting volunteers in the local community to help during the hosting of the games.”
Kiera Byland, Bolton’s Special Olympic and INAS World Champion gold medallist said: “I have a learning disability and at school I struggled to keep friends and I wasn’t chosen for any team sports. I was in a dark place and use to self-harm but that changed when I took up cycling and swimming.
“I have since represented Great Britain at two Special Olympics and INAS World Cycling Championships winning gold medals along the way. My next challenge will be going out to Brisbane to defend my INAS World cycling titles and I’m proud to be part of the UKSA GB team.
“Sport can help people turn their lives around and hopefully I can help inspire other people with a learning disability and girls to do sport and never give up.”
Bolton secured the right to host games following a campaign led by Bolton Council and supported by Bolton Wanderers, Bolton Whites Hotel, the University of Bolton, Ideal Corporate Solutions Ltd, and a host of businesses, organisations and sports clubs including Bolton Mets and Westhoughton Lions.
The RLWC2021 will see 32 teams playing 64 games across 20 venues and it is expected to be the biggest Rugby League World Cup, watched worldwide by an estimated 150 million people across 115 countries and the tournament will potentially generate £4.5million for Bolton’s economy.