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Wednesday, June 26 2019 @ 11:31 pm ACST

AFL PNG Oil Search Pathway delivers results

OceaniaYoung Papua New Guinean Paul Phillip is making his mark on the Queensland Australian football scene thanks to AFL PNG's Oil Search Pathway program.

AFL Queensland's Andrew Cadzow reports that the strongly built captain of the 2005 Binatangs has spent the last three weeks training hard with both the Queensland State U/16 squad and Brisbane First Division powerhouse club Caloundra. Phillip has travelled to Queensland to secure State selection and improve his skills so that he can aim for the next level upon his return home.

In order to pursue his AFL dream, Phillip has adopted a gruelling training regime. He is currently playing twice a week, in addition to two training nights and two nights of 8-a-side football. The regime is testing the young gun's fitness, though his footballing skills have vastly improved.

Queensland Talent Manager Mark Browning is high in his praise of Phillip.

"If all PNG youngsters come over with this great attitude and desire to learn, the country will have a lot of Mal Michaels running around over the next 10 years or more"

Phillip starred for the Binatangs in their Cairns campaign and continued along the Oil Search Pathway to secure representative honours with the Queensland Country Kookaburras. After a strong showing with that squad, Phillip was invited back to Australia on an AFL PNG Elite Scholarship to trial at State level.

A best on ground performance for Caloundra last Friday night in front of State Coach Neville Miller didn't hurt Phillip's cause.

"I have been working hard and staying with Andrew Cadzow, (who) has helped me with my dietary and training schedule", Phillip said. "Kicking two goals and playing well last Friday was a good experience, as was playing in the trial game for the State squad. I miss home, but the footy here is great and I am learning a lot. I hope I can get selected to the U16 State team, the Scorpions, so I can stay on and keep learning and improving."

AFL PNG has seen blossoming opportunities for their young players since the Oil Search Pathway program began in 2002, but it has really kicked up a gear in 2005 following formalisation of closer links with AFL Queensland. AFL PNG currently has 6 players on the Gold Coast with Coolangatta FC, Paul Phillip in Brisbane, David Gavara in Melbourne and Stanley Tepend, the former Kumul, in Malaysia. Each of these players will be eligible for National selection in this year's International Cup in August.

The PNG Mosquitoes are still seeking sponsorship support for their International Cup Tour. Anyone interested in sponsoring the side, which will be very competitive, can get further information at the AFL PNG website.

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