Kuk, who left Papua New Guinea (PNG) as a 10-year-old, has represented both her birth country and Australia in the sport. 

Unlike Australia where pathways have been developed for young girls, the island nation just north had none of this and their first national women's team only came to fruition two years ago.

It was during the PNG Orchids first international match in September 2017 that the 23-year-old stood in front of her home country wearing the green and gold.

"It was very emotional," Kuk said. 

"When the moment finally came when we were just standing there waiting for the national anthem that's when it really hit me with the PNG national anthem went up and I realised that I was actually going to war against my sisters.


This is by far one of the most emotional adventures I've ever had. Standing in front of my home crowd singing the Aussie national anthem and bursting into tears when the PNG Anthem went up. An unbelievable experience playing in front of the best crowd in the world. A great day to showcase women's footy in PNG and change the mindset of people by spreading the message of "Strongpla Man respectim Meri". Thank you to the PNG orchids for creating history and paving the pathway for the future generation of women in the country. To get a standing ovation from my people after the game really topped it off. My heart is full. I love you Papua New Guinea. I will forever carry your name with pride and do the best that I can to bring good name back to you, you will always have my heart! I will remember this historical day forever ❤️❤️ #CreatingHistory #PNGVsAUS #Jillaroos #PNGOrchids #StrongMenRespectWomen

A post shared by Amelia Kuk 🇵🇬 (@ameliakukk) on

"I am so blessed to be calling Australia and Papua New Guinea my two homes and to be able to do that was really emotional. I remember just crying when the national anthem and the flag went up but at the end of the day it was about the jersey I was wearing."

Australia would go on to win the match 42–4 with PNG's only try coming late in the match courtesy of prop Maima Wei.

However, after missing out on selection for the Jillaroos World Cup squad later that year, Kuk was recruited to the Orchids by head coach David Westley. 

As the Orchids continued their preparations for their first Women's Rugby League World Cup appearances, a crew of film markers were following the team's journey.

The documentary called 'Power Meri' reached Australian shores last month and follows how the Orchids navigated through intense sexism, lack of funding and national prejudice. 


With just two games under their belts, the Orchids took to Southern Cross Group Stadium in Sydney for their maiden World Cup match but went down 22-8 to Canada. 

They would go on to be defeated by England and New Zealand in their remaining two games.

But with social media at the touch of a finger, comments started flooding into sites like Facebook about how 'money was being wasted' on the side and 'how embarrassing' the Orchids were.

Unfortunately, it's not rare to see this in women's sport with players like Kuk told how to deal with trolls or ignorant people but for the Orchids players, who had never been exposed to this before found it hard.

"When you're in a public place and are an athlete there is always going to be someone who will voice an opinion and then they attack you directly because they feel like they have the rights to that," Kuk said. 

"During the World Cup time because the girls were put into it straight away and after playing only two games together as a team they were put in the spotlight where the whole world was watching and all of PNG so they were an easy target for everyone to have an opinion about.

"It affected a few of the girls because they weren't really trained in their mental part to be able to be resilient and bounce back from things like that but I think some of them just let it get to them and it affected them."

However, since their return home, attitudes towards the team and women's rugby league have slowly changed but there are still negative comments around.

Despite those comments, players are respected by most in PNG and are treated as role models to young girls in the country.

"When they walk down the shops and they are role models and idols now in Papa New Guinea and people stop them and want to take a photo with them," Kuk said.

"That's the impact they've had on their own country against and being able to change those mindsets."

PNG has long been a society which has put men above women even if Kuk's parents didn't say anything she knew this was the case. Women would have what is considered a traditional role in the household, being the homemakers and weren't encouraged to play sport. 

The country is also considered one of the most dangerous places for women to live with high rates of domestic violence, although current statistics are hard to find. 

However, Kuk believes that sport can help change these mindsets ingrained into the PNG society.

"I think with things like sport, I guess besides religion, its another thing that brings everyone together and in that way you can use sport to create change and try to change into creating a different mindset," she said.

"It's hard, it's really hard because there are so many cultural barriers there but I think it's slowly happening and I'm happy to be a part of that."

Not only that but being able to have female athletes treated like a professional athlete and play the sport fulltime, just like their male counterparts, would be a step in the right direction into helping create change. 

After all, the Orchids are still progressing as a women's rugby league nation compared to that of Australia and New Zealand. 

Up next for the side will be the Pacific Test Invitational at Leichhardt Oval in June which will see the Orchids face Fiji as part of a triple-header with the men's matches. 

"The more experienced and the more games that they can get together, they'll build up for the upcoming World Cup," Kuk said.

For Power Meri session times go to https://au.demand.film/power-meri/.

Note: all tickets must be pre-purchased online before the screening.