Year 12 student David Eskander on the day he was selected for the challenge
Year 12 student David Eskander on the day he was selected for the challenge

A determined Year 12 student, who has been selected for a ten-day hike along the Kokoda Trail in Papua Nua Guinea, will have to balance rigorous training for the challenge alongside studying for his final year exams.

David Eskander, 17 has been invited to take part in the Kokoda Youth Leadership Challenge, held by the RSL and Services Clubs Association, where he will join other young community leaders for the 155km trail.

The student at Emmaus Catholic College, was selected for the challenge by the Penrith RSL sub-branch after doing five years with the local cadet unit.

In taking on the enormous feat, Mr Eskander says he wishes to honour the sacrifice of the men who fought on the trail in World War II.

David Eskander on a practise hike with friends
David Eskander on a practise hike with friends

“They were all new recruits, they didn’t know anything but the way they upheld themselves on that trail and their endurance to keep fighting in order to defend their country, I want to honour this.”

Mr Eskander also says he sees the trek as a “personal challenge” and an opportunity for growth.

I believe the experience will help me develop a new level of self-awareness, gratitude, mindfulness and resilience, while raising awareness of what Kokoda stands for: mateship, courage, endurance and sacrifice.

Before he sets off for Papua New Guinea in September, — two days after his Year 12 graduation — Mr Eskander is undergoing regular strength and endurance training with a personal trainer as well as hiking in the nearby Blue Mountains.

In order to get match fit, Mr Eskander must get used to carrying up to 20kg on his back, as those on the track are required to carry all their own supplies.

“I’m feeling confident, but nervous, I want take it on and finish it and be able to say I’ve done this,” he said.

The Kokoda Youth Leadership Challenge is open to applicants aged 17-25 and is aimed at creating greater awareness among young people of the Diggers sacrifice on the Kokoda Campaign, and to ensure that traditions live on.


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Daily Telegraph

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