Vale Robert Bola

Vale Robert Bola

It is with great sadness that we hear of the passing of Robert Bola, father of the current PNG Athletics Team Manager, Nola Peni, and grandfather of PNG athlete Miriam Peni.

Robert passed peacefully in his sleep on 8th December.

Robert was in the 1963 PNG Athletics Team to the Inaugural South Pacific Games. He competed in the Long and Triple Jump. He was part of the huge extended Matupit Island family of top athletes. The Matupit “honour roll” reads like a who’s who of PNG Athletics.

In 2015, while researching PNG’s Athletics history, I contacted Takale Tuna and he educated me about this Matupit connection in our sport. The long and involved web of intertwining families is incredible.

All related to Robert Bola are current PNG athletes, Rellie Kaputin and Theo Piniau and from yesteryear we had Takale Tuna, Ezekiel Wartovo, Bernard Manana, Nellie Leslie, Silas Tita, John Vuia, Rosa Maira, Sir John Kaputin and Ivan Wakit.

Coming from such a strong sporting heritage it is natural that both Robert’s daughter and grand-daughter would excel in Athletics.

Robert Bola was a true gentleman. Always willing to help, and it is no wonder that he became such a successful school inspector with the Department of Education.

In 2015 while I was researching PNG Athletics History for a series of newspaper articles, Robert gave generously of his time and provided access to his memorabilia, including the classic photo of the PNG Athletics Team to the 1963 SPG in Suva. In 1989 I lived just down the road from the Bola Family and got to know them during my time teaching at Kokopo High School. Nola was a keen long and triple jumper during this time. Good genes – good traditions.

Condolences go to his family, friends and to the sporting fraternity of East New Britain and Papua New Guinea. He will be sorely missed.

by Bob Snow

1963 PNG Athletics Team South Pacific Games with names