He might live 2,729km from Pepper Stadium, but Papua New Guinea’s Ed Kolen is without a doubt one of Penrith’s biggest fans.
If you’ve been on the many Penrith Panthers fan pages on Facebook, chances are you’re familiar with Mr Kolen’s passion and excitement for his team.
A Panthers supporter since he was five-years-old, Mr Kolen has formed new friendships with fans in Australia through the shared love of the team.
“I am so glad to have joined the Penrith Panthers fans Facebook groups,” Mr Kolen said.
“To be honest, they are like a family to me.”
Another Panthers fan, Steve Brewin, was so impressed by Mr Kolen, that he has started a crowdfunding campaign to bring him over to Penrith to watch a home game in the flesh.
“He’s probably the most positive fan on there, he’s always throwing his support behind the team regardless of win, lose or draw,” Mr Brewin said.
“I got talking to him and realised that he lives in Papua New Guinea and he doesn’t have very much money.
“The amount of passion he has for the Panthers, he was going into dangerous areas of PNG to find a television just to watch the games.
“I felt like it would be a dream come true for him to get out and see a game.”
Panthers fans are throwing their support behind Mr Kolen by raising money for his passport, flights, accommodation and one experience he will never, ever forget.
When Mr Kolen first heard about the news, he was overwhelmed with excitement.
“To me, it was great news and I was really excited about it. I even told my friends and family about it,” he said.
“It would be a dream come true for me watching the game being played instead of watching it on TV.”
A loyal fan of the Panthers after being inspired by his hero Mark Geyer, Mr Kolen is encouraging the team to play passionately this season.
“Play with love, joy and pride for the people in Penrith and the fans around Australia and other parts of the world,” he said.
To help Mr Kolen finally see his beloved Panthers play at Pepper Stadium, visit www.gofundme.com/bring-ed-over-for-panthers-game.
Emily Newton is the Weekender’s police and political reporter. Emily is also the Weekender’s Senior Journalist.