Always put God first, says Gunemba – The National
I have been able to accomplish so much in football thanks to the blessing of God.
By LARRY ANDREW
RAYMOND Gunemba’s footballing career recorded another feat after Morobe’s man was named to the International Federation of Oceania’s International Federation of Football History and Statistics Men’s Team of the Decade (2010-2020) .
The Papua New Guinea international, captain of the Lae City Dwellers, is one of three Pacific Islanders in the New Zealand (NZ)-dominated squad.
The squad consists of goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic (NZ), left-back Winston Reid (NZ), center-back Tommy Smith (NZ), right-back Ryan Nelsen (NZ), Fijian Roy Krishna , by All White Ryan Thomas, attacking midfielder Marco Rojas (NZ), holding midfielder Ivan Vicelich (NZ) and forwards Teaonui Tehau (Tahiti), Chris Wood (NZ) and Gunemba. “This is one of my greatest football achievements for which I am grateful to God,” said Raymond, 2016 Oceania Football Confederation Gold Cup winner Raymond. The National Last week.
“Being named to the Team of the Decade is another big step in my career.
“I’m not sure a PNG football player has achieved such recognition.
“Across the region, including PNG, there are so many talented football players and I am just lucky to be one of three Pacific Islanders to receive this honor.
“I have been able to accomplish so much in football because of God’s blessing.”
One of the National Football League’s main strikers, Raymond, has warned aspiring footballers that discipline, commitment and humility are essential in any sport, including football.
“Put God first in your life and you will receive His blessings on your path to achieving your goals and living your dream,” said the 35-year-old.
“There were a number of people who had helped me in my football career, especially my mom and dad.
“My father, Peter, continues to be my mentor while my mother, Janet, helps me spiritually by keeping me in her prayers in all of my games.
“I also want to make a special mention to Vonnie Kapi Natto who has helped shape my football career.
“After the games, I saw that drinking alcohol had become a habit for many players.
“But since I joined Hekari United, I started to realize the importance of the discipline, and God must receive the glory.
“It prompted me to change my bad habits and I thank Vonnie for her support.
“She and her husband John have invested a lot of resources in my development.
“They didn’t see my bad side.
“They just helped me in my development as a footballer.”
Peter said he was proud of his son’s accomplishments, adding that God had given a great player to the family, the province and the country.
“I am also proud of the accomplishments of his sister and fellow international PNG Meagan,” said the Dwellers coach.
“It shows that PNG can compete with the region’s football heavyweights.
“I am grateful to the national team, Hekari, Dwellers, Lae City and everyone who helped Raymond develop.”
Raymond’s father, a longtime Papuan resident, is from Burum, Finschhafen, and his mother is from Zenag, Mumeng, Bulolo.
The former City skipper is the oldest of four siblings – the others are Troy, Janet and Meagan – and has three children (two boys and a girl) with his wife Nialin Chamilou, from Manus.
“I grew up in a family of footballers,” Raymond said.
“My mother’s siblings, Raymond and Gidix Nasa, represented PNG in sport.
“I used to wear their football boots to matches in the local competition or tournaments sanctioned by the PNG Football Association.
“Everywhere my uncles camped and played, I was there.
“This determination and commitment started to take its toll on me as the thought of emulating them kept crossing my mind.”
The Papuan complex, which is also home to the Poro National Women’s Football League team, is a kind of nursery for sportsmen and women, especially footballers.
It is also home to rugby sevens star Max Vali, who changed codes earlier this year to help Digicel Cup heavyweights Lae Tigers claim the brace in the country’s premier rugby league competition.
Raymond said that growing up football was in his blood and even a serious injury couldn’t stop him from playing the game he loved.
The Morobe native was in 5th grade at St Paul’s Primary School when he suffered a foot injury that threatened to derail his dream.
“Despite my foot in a cast, the injury didn’t stop me from playing soccer,” said Raymond.
“Once recovered, my passion for football caught the attention of my father, who started teaching me skills and other areas of football.
“The more I got involved in football, the more I started to see results.
“When I was 16, I was playing against senior players from the Lae Football Association (LFA).
“I represented the National Under-19 team against Solomon Islands at LFA Park at the launch of the National Soccer League.
“It was my first time playing for the country.” He went on to represent the National Under-23 team against Fiji.
Raymond started playing semi-professional football with Gigira Laitepo Morobe United, before spending time with Rapatona Tigers, Eastern Stars, Hekari United and City.
He also spent time abroad with Hamilton Wanderers (NZ), Henderson Eels (Solomon Islands) and Geelong (Australia).
Raymond returned to Lae to help resurrect the Dwellers – who are third in the Northern Conference, behind standings leader Morobe Wawens and City – after another stint with Hekari last season.