By HENRY MORABANG
INNOVATIVE and successful junior programmes over the years plus patience has paid dividends for AFLPNG in realising its dream of establishing an international AFLPNG Academy in the country.
A memorandum of u nderstanding between AFL Asia-Pacific and De La Salle Bomana Secondary School recently has seal the inception of the AFL academy.
AFL Asia-Pacific manager Andrew Cadzow and school chairman Rumints Siki signed the agreement while the school and 17 inaugural academy attendees looked on
De La Salle will now become an international academy for Australia Football League (AFL) aspiring young talents across the country and also from the neighbouring Pacific Island countries.
The Bomana AFL Academy will certainly, in coming years, cater for the games growth in the Pacific with indications already that talent from Fiji, Nauru, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands are marked to attend.
While AFLPNG and Cricket PNG have embarked on using De La Salle school as their academy, the multi-million kina funded sports such as rugby league and soccer are still crawling miles behind AFLPNG.
The selection of the pioneer Catholic church-run school was a plus for the board of management.
Siki said: “We are extremely happy to have AFLPNG choose our school and we are sure that this will be a prosperous partnership for the school, the boys and AFL.”
The academy compliments the successful junior programmes undertaken by AFL PNG for over number of years unlike other major sports such as soccer, rugby league, rugby union, netball and swimming
The inaugural intakes of academy Rau Kobale, Freddy Kalandi, Gideon Simeon, Exra Gotuna, Jason Saong (Highlands), Ori Nilmo, Ezra Kautu, Alois Luba, Douglas Kaiwa, Brendon Beno (Island), Willie Au, Scotty Johnson, (Northern), Max Lavai and Noel Maguna (Southern).
Of the 17 intakes, six players have secured contracts to play with AFL clubs under the international recruitment drives.
Richmond, Essendon and the Brisbane Lions could not let the opportunity slip when attending the Coca Cola Talent camp last year.
Players such as Simon (Western Highlands) and Nathan Malabag (Morobe) were snapped up by the Richmond Tigers while Kautu (WNB) has been signed by Brisbane Lions and Victor Rame (WNB) taken on by the Essendon Bombers while Beno has been given an opportunity at the Lions and Lavai with the Bombers.