The National, Thuresday 19th January 2012
By LESLIE OMARO
AFLPNGs have attracted huge interest from Australia AFL coaches and clubs and is one of the hot spots for AFL scouts to recruit talents.
A report in the Herald Sun said that AFL has identified the South Pacific as its main growth area over the next five years with the region seen as ripe for mass participation.
It reported that the move has left previous expansion markets most notably Ireland “in the shade”.
The South Pacific is also considered a more viable target than North America which had previously been seen as a potentially fertile recruiting ground.
The report also said that AFL sees the South Pacific and South Africa as the main markets with potential for growth and now views Ireland and North America as having little realistic chance of brining a mass of players.
AFLPNG’s Walter Yangomin who has taken on a new role as public relations manager, said it would not be long before a PNG-born player breaks into the AFL in Australia.
“I’d say before 2016 one of our boys will be playing in the AFL competition in Australia,” Yangomina said.
“Our boys are playing a very exciting and fast brand of footy which has really grabbed their (AFL) attention.
“Gideon Simon is a fine example. This kid has got the right attitude and at just 16 years and he could go all the way if he continues his progress,” he said.
And that was how serious Yangomin was giving the time frame for a PNG player to play in the world’s number one Australian Rules competition.
“Just see Peter Labi. He just played 10 games for his team in the Queensland state comp and he won the best and fairest award.
“That’s how talented and naturally gifted our PNG kids are.
“Now with the academy, these boys go to school, get educated, are disciplined and learn to play footy,” the former PNG Mosquitoe said.
“It was not like before when they just came from the outside and compared to the Australian kids they eat, sleep and play AFL.”
“For our kids here (PNG) it’s different they don’t get that opportunity but now with the AFL Academy (De La Salle), the boys are taught to put these things together,” Yangomina said.
“Education and football combines to prepare them (Academy members) when they go down to play for clubs in Australia.
“And it’s all about getting the right combination of skill, attitude, environment for a player to be able to development to his full potential,” he said.
Yangomina said that AFL unlike other codes was governed by a single body in Australia which made the organising of visas, accreditation and player attachment much easier.