Remembering Kato Ottio...

Remembering Kato Ottio...

9th January 2019

January 9th marks the one year anniversary of Kato Ottio’s passing in Papua New Guinea. On such a poignant day, Widnes Vikings would like to pay tribute to Kato…

Kato was one of the most upcoming and promising prospects in the Australian leagues, having scored 29 tries in 23 games for Canberra Raiders’ Intrust Super Premiership NSW feeder team, the Mounties. 

After a successful 2017 Rugby League World Cup campaign with his native Papua New Guinea, Kato had secured a deal with Widnes Vikings for the 2018 season, along with fellow PNG player Wellington Albert.

However, in January 2018, Widnes Vikings were shocked by the passing of Kato in Papua New Guinea, just days before he was set to fly to the United Kingdom to embark on a new chapter of his life at Widnes. 

In response to his passing, the Vikings delivered a number of initiatives for Kato’s family. This included a Crowd Funder page, with generous donations from fans of all clubs raising a staggering £11,435. This money will help to support Kato’s loved ones in the coming years. 

The club also dedicated their 2018 pre-season fixture against Whitehaven RLFC to Kato, with a bucket collection pre-game raising over £4,300. The first team squad paid tribute to their teammate by observing a minutes silence, whilst wearing shirts with ‘Kato 18’ on them, Kato’s squad number for the 2018 season. 

In addition to our efforts, the club were warmed by the outstanding response from the whole rugby league community to the tragic news of Kato’s passing. 

Close to home, club partner, Anne-Marie Hughes from Skin Deep Aesthetics, generously auctioned off a signed Joe Mellor match-worn shirt for £450, purchased by Barry Nanson.

PNG legend, Stanley Gene, also was unwavering in his support of the club in our efforts to support Kato’s family. Stanley helped to aid the Shirt Donation initiative the club launched, in which fans could donate shirts to the people of Papua New Guinea. 

The Vikings would like to thank supporters of all clubs, from Wigan Warriors to Swinton Lions, as well as our own, for your generosity in donations of shirts. 

Further to this, Stanley worked as an intermediary between ourselves and Kato’s loved ones, and helped to ensure that the money raised makes an impact to those Kato loved, including the building of the dream house he imagined for his mother, Joyce. 

Joyce Ottio, Kato’s mother, says: “I just want to say a huge thank you to the Widnes Vikings club for their never ending support towards my family, it is truly wonderful and life-changing. 

“Words cannot describe how humble I am with your club’s help. I want to say thank you to you all for the support towards the building of my late son’s, Kato Ben Ottio, dream house. 

“I would like to say good luck and all the best for the upcoming season, and may God bless you all now and forever.”

Wellington Albert, Widnes Vikings first team star, says: “Today is the 1st anniversary of the day that I lost you. For a time, I felt as though my life had ended too.

“I am full of sadness, Kato, that you are not here with me in Widnes. However, your influence still guides me through life now, and I still feel near to you every single day.

“What we shared as brothers will never die, it lives within my heart, and brings me strength and comfort whilst we are apart. My son, Jayston Kato, will also remind me of you in the many years to come. 

“May your soul rest in eternal peace. Until we meet again, my brother…”

James Rule, CEO at Widnes Vikings, says: “The tragedy of Kato passing is something that nobody here at the club will ever forget. Whilst we didn’t have the pleasure in seeing him wear our colours and perform on the field, he will always be a part of the Widnes Vikings family.

“Kato had a dream that he wanted to build his mum a house when he had finished his career. It’s been inspiring for our club to play a small part in helping to realise that dream. 

“It has also been a humbling experience to see how the people of Papua New Guinea have taken our club into their hearts, a relationship which the club will continue to develop and grow in the coming years.” 

Rest In Peace, Kato. Once a Viking, Always a Viking…

Remembering Kato Ottio...