WEST PAPUA

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Matchworn in various matches

Manufacturer: Hummel

Source: West Papua Football Association

THE COUNTRY

To be honest, I didn’t know a whole lot about West Papua before I bought this shirt.

Yes, they are the western part of New Guinea, the world’s second largest island and they are sharing it with their eastern neighbors, Papua New Guinea.

Yes, they are part of Indonesia. Yes, there is an ongoing conflict and the desire to gain independence from Indonesia. Apart from that, however, West Papua has always been a blank spot on my mental map.

Glady, I came across an Australian satire “travel ad” on YouTube that taught me West Papua’s turbulent history in a subversive, yet superficial way.

Bereft of their homeland, oppressed and expelled, the West Papuans are regularly facing racism and inequity. As Melanesians, West Papuan’s are culturally close to Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu or New Caledonia, yet they are governed by a country that they share no culture, traditions or language with, making them strangers in their own land. Raising their traditional morning star flag (as can be seen above) within Indonesia, can even lead to a ten-year prison sentence.

THE SHIRT

On a lighter note, there’s also football (and a town/regency called Fakfak):

Given the cultural turmoil in West Papua, having a national team within Indonesia is probably not the best idea. Consequently, West Papua’s national team was formed in the Netherlands, where are large West Papuan diaspora resides. Their first games were played during the 2005 UNPO Cup in The Hague and later, the team became part of the ConIFA.

The very shirt you are seeing here was used during the 2017 UNPO Cup and in later games, but unfortunately, I couldn’t find out which players wore it.

The shirt is based on a fantastic dark-blue Hummel design with silver details and and a sponsor (fortunately) in the back.

The West Papuan team before a match during the 2017 UNPO Cup.

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