By ELIAS LARI
THE Australian Football League PNG (AFLPNG) under its Niukick programme is targeting school aged children between nine and 23 years in the Highlands region.
AFLPNG Highlands region game development officer Elijah Barewoi said that he had started the programme roll out in schools in Western Highlands, especially Mt Hagen.
Barewoi said the sport once popular in the Western Highlands capital had gone missing for a period of several years but through the Niukick intiative interest was being revived especially among the youth and those in schools.
He said AFLPNG was now actively promoting Australian rules football in schools with an eye to developing an interest in the code in the younger generations.
He said player registrations were held last Saturday at Tarangau Primary School.
According to Barewoi a good number of schools showed an interest signing up.
Barewoi said AFLPNG was recruiting boys and girls from 12 to 13 years and also recruiting 16 year olds as well.
“We have a tournament in Brisbane that is coming up next year and so we’re (AFLPNG) hoping to identify some talent and train them for the representative sides.”
Barewoi said the more schools and students participated in the programme the bigger the selection pool was and he would be able to pick the best.
One of the advantages Barewoi told teachers and students interested in AFL was that talented players could be given educational scholarships and be part of the AFL Academy in Port Moresby.
This is only lilimted to male players but in women’s AFL there were opportunities to travel with the various age group teams and the senior side.
Barewoi said there was aclear pathway for talented athletes to rise through the representative sides and finally making the senior teams.
Barewoi thanked Tarangau primary headmaster William Pora and their board for allowing AFLPNG to use the school field to the stage the games.
He also thanked Martin Marr from the Western Highlands Education Division for supporting the Niukick programme.
By ELIAS LARI