Contributed by: Matt Morris
AFL club St Kilda has made one of the shocks of AFL National Draft day, selecting a young man of PNG descent, from outside the elite talent programs. Hopefully his heritage will make him a further role model for the thousands of kids now playing footy in Papua New Guinea, just like Mal Michael of the Brisbane Lions, who has a huge profile in Australia's northern neighbour.
The young draftee is 18 year old James Gwilt from Noble Park, in Melbourne. Gwilt's mother is from PNG. He never came through the normal channel of getting onto an AFL list. In fact, he spent most of the year in the reserves of his Eastern Football League team, Noble Park, but was best on ground in his team's grand final.
John Beveridge, the St Kilda recruiting manager, said that drafting Gwilt was a risk, but one he is confident that would pay off. The Saints used pick number 63 for him.
The 188cm tall left-footer didn't play in the elite TAC Cup footy because cricket interfered in the pre-season. He is a top player in Premier Cricket for South Melbourne.
Hopefully the young man will have a successful AFL career and inspire the many young Papuan players who currently look up to Mal Michael and are starting to be developed through PNG's pathway program. Some are now starting to filter down through the AFL Queensland junior talent programs (see earlier World Footy News stories).
World Footy News