Contributed by: Jake AnsonJunior development programmes in northern Papua New Guinea have gained momentum with the inaugural Northern Zone Regional Championships recently showcasing PNG’s next generation of Australian football talent.
The championships featured boys’ U13, U15 and U17 divisions in addition to an exhibition match of schoolgirl football that augers well for the future. They also showcased the newly-formed Goroka and Daulo junior leagues that kicked off in April this year and are proving to be very successful.
The regional championships are part of AFL-PNG’s elite group development programmes, which provide an opportunity for the most talented juniors to progress to a national development level and perhaps one day represent Papua New Guinea. An U17 squad selected at the championships will attend a national training camp in January 2005 that will identify very talented players who presumably could be available for promotion to the rookie list of Australian Football League clubs. The U15 squad will compete at the inaugural AFL-PNG Zone National Championship in Port Moresby from September 30th-October 3rd. From this an U16 national side will be selected to tour Queensland in April 2005. The U13 squad will attend an Easter training camp in the capital that will select the PNG U14 team for 2005.
Also on the cards for PNG football is the possibility of a challenge match between AFL-PNG and AFL-Queensland schoolgirls in 2006. AFL-Goroka Junior Development Officer Jacob Nibil has been encouraging other centres in the north to allow girls to participate and benefit from the junior programmes.
“We should be looking at bringing school Girls U15 teams to the 2nd Northern Zone Junior Regional Championships so that AFL-PNG can identify talented girls and put them on a national development programme.”
Nibil went on to stress the fundraising effort required to meet the costs of flying squads to the capital so that they can continue their development.
“It is an important event for the U15’s as they will battle to win a space in PNG junior Binatang U16 squad. I don’t want our talented players to miss this opportunity and I am appealing to parents, teachers, business houses and statutory bodies in Goroka to help.”
Corporate bodies or organisations wishing to sponsor or support the players with airfares can contact Nibil on (+675) 732 167.
Full squad lists from the championships can be viewed here.
World Footy News