The Sharks will wear a specially-designed jersey on Saturday night when they take on the Canberra Raiders in the first Kokoda Challenge match.
Commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Kokoda, the match will also aim to raise awareness for the Kokoda Track Foundation and to highlight the significance of the Kokoda Track in Australian war-time history.
While the main concept for the Kokoda Challenge game is to recognise the anniversary of one of Australia greatest battles of the second world war, the second reason is to develop that connection with the Canberra Raiders in an event that is both enduring and meaningful.
The third purpose of the Kokoda Challenge is to recognise the work that the Kokoda Track Foundation does for the local Papua New Guineans of the region.
The Kokoda Foundation manages a series of much needed education and health programs along the Kokoda Track, most importantly health support to the children of the Track, who often struggle to receive basic medical care.
The Foundation also provides education to the children of the Track, a basic social need which is often denied through lack of funding.
Further to the above the Kokoda Challenge will embrace the values and qualities inscribed on the four black granite pillars at the Isurava Memorial in Papua New Guinea, the pillars of Courage, Endurance, Mateship and Sacrifice.
As a mark of respect, a tribute video will play on the big screen at Southern Cross Group Stadium prior to the kick-off of the NRL clash, with both teams and the crowd in attendance to stand for a minute’s silence as a mark of remembrance before the game.
The Kokoda jersey, which the Sharks unveiled on Wednesday evening in a scrimmage session against the club’s Holden Cup team, is a special design with historic war-time images from the Battle of Kokoda printed on the front and back.
The Battle of Kokoda saw Australians and Papua New Guineans fight side-by-side to protect Australian shores, and without the support of the local people, enemy advances would have been near impossible to repel.
The Sharks and Raiders join together for the Kokoda Challenge game on Saturday night in the belief that Australians should be aware of the significance of the Kokoda Track and the hardship endured by all those who fought and died there.