The National, Wednesday 30th November 2011
PAPUA New Guinea will participate in the 2011 Youth AFL Oceania Cup in Fiji from Dec 13-17.
PNG will be one of eight nations to compete in the championships that will be played at Albert Park in Suva.
The participating countries are Fiji, New Zealand, PNG, Nauru, Samoa, Tonga, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.
PNG will be looking to go back-to-back after they won the tournament last year.
AFL Asia-Pacific development manager Andrew Cadzow said the tournament gives young players throughout the Pacific region the opportunity to play Australia’s number one sport at a higher level.
“We hope to increase the number of Pacific-born players in AFL lists within the next five years to join the likes of Hawthorn’s Shane Savage and Kurt Heatherly (both born in New Zealand) and North Melbourne’s Aaron Edwards (Samoa).
“We look forward to a fantastic week of competition in Suva and not only will teams be playing for the Oceania Cup, players will be vying for a place in the South Pacific team that will compete in the 2012 AFL Under 16 Championships in Sydney.
“Australian football brings diverse communities together and can have positive effects both on and off the field.
“We hope the youth of the Pacific both in Australia and throughout the region will connect with the game and harness the opportunity it can provide,” he said.
The week will also include an AFL International Combine that will test the best 50 players’ athletic ability.
It will be a chance to demonstrate they can match some of Australia’s best U16 talent and be noticed by AFL coaches and recruiters.
AFL stars in Fiji’s Nic Naitanui (West Coast Eagles) and Tongan Israel Folau (Greater Western Sydney) will attend the championships.
The AFL’s U15 Indigenous squad – the Flying Boomerangs – will also travel to Fiji to compete against Oceania and South Pacific representative teams.