Barassi in PNG for the Cup Build-Up as the Business of PNG Footy opens Aussie Franchises
Friday, July 29 2005 @ 01:22 am ACST
Contributed by: Aaron Richard
The Kokoda International Cavaliers Klub (KICK), an organisation formed in Papua New Guinea to promote and raise funds for the AFLPNG and Australian Football in general in the country, is planning to open two new chapters in Adelaide and Melbourne. Last Wednesday, July 27th, the KICK Port Moresby chapter held a player auction in support of the Mosquitoes' assault on the IC - with special guest speaker Ron Barassi. WFN caught up with 'Mr Football' to talk about the Cup and international footy in general.
Ron Barassi is generally considered one of, if not the greatest player in the history of Australian Rules Football. Known to many simply as 'Mr Football' Barassi's services have notably included development work in the northen states where rugby league is the main code and he has been a prominent spokesman for promotion of Australian Rules overseas.
He was spotted in the crowd on more than a few occasions at the 2002 IC and will be there again in Melbourne in a week's time. 'I won't be able to make the final, but I'll certainly be there for the pool games and hopefully will see the Mosquitoes perform well. I haven't had a chance to see them up here, but they're a good side drawn from all over the country'.
In Papua New Guinea, he has actually coached a touring Australian side, who came to PNG in the mid-70s for matches against local players. 'Back then we were very impressed with the athleticism and ability of the locals' he recalls, and he still believes in genuine potential in the area, stating unreservedly that 'If I were still involved with a club in the AFL I'd definitely want my scouts to be down at the International Cup matches... Australian Football accomodates a much wider range of athletic types than rugby league, so a lot of the athletes in Papua New Guinea might be more suited to Aussie Rules. There might be some 16, 17 or 18-year-olds coming through who would be well worth a look by an AFL club'.
The celebrity fundraiser was quite successful, raising a large amount of funds to help the Mossies make it down to Melbourne, and Barassi and other former VFL/AFL stars are hoping such functions can become a regular occurance all over the globe.
From a PNG point of view, the KICK club is looking to branch out with new chapters opening in August this year in Adelaide on August 12th and Melbourne on August 14th, hoping to hold at least two functions per year to assist in player scholarships for young Papua New Guineans to play Aussie Rules in Australia.
Barassi has also become the public face of what is set to become the highest competition for junior Aussie Rules across the world, the Barassi International Australian Football Youth Tournament. The next tournament will be held in 2006 and Barassi is hopeful of a good field of teams. 'They've had interest from around eight to ten sides, although the final number remains to be confirmed'.
For readers in Melbourne and Adelaide, remember, this is your chance to help out international footy. Visit AFLPNG for more details on the local KICK shows.