Contributed by: Brett Northey
In another boost for the game in Australia's northern neighbour, the AFL has agreed to increase funding to AFL-PNG by AU$15,000 per year. Garry Breust, AFL-PNG board member, released the information last week and has advised that the Board will meet "in the New Year to discuss this decision and the practical implications". He went on to say that "We are pleased to see an extended commitment from the AFL and AFLQ and look forward to working with you (AFL-PNG supporters) to see the further growth of AFL football in PNG in 2006."
The original advice was from AFL Queensland CEO, Richard Griffiths - more information follows.
Griffiths stated that "with Scott Reid's departure from Papua New Guinea, the AFL in conjunction with AFL Queensland have taken the opportunity to consider how the AFL could reinforce and capitalise upon the exciting progress our AFL development programs had achieved in the past 5 years in PNG."
"One factor we did carefully consider was the notable growing interest across AFL circles in relation to countries like PNG and the possibility of players reaching the elite level from such nations."
Griffiths noted that AFLQ could do more in terms of staff training and "delivery of programs across the board in PNG".
AFL PNG works hard to secure money from several sources, and the grant increase takes funding from the AFL to AU$65,000 per year but just as important is the other support mentioned above. "AFL Queensland, through PNG Coordinator Andrew Cadzow will take a heightened involvement in the operational aspects of AFL PNG Development Programs and there will be more visits to PNG by AFLQ personnel to support AFL PNG personnel. Similarly AFL PNG staff will be encouraged to spend time training in Queensland with AFLQ staff."
PNG's proximity to and relationship with Australia undoubtedly gives it some advantages over other countries keen to develop footy. But it also faces major hurdles as a developing nation. Perhaps the most significant statement from Griffiths was:
"The AFL and AFLQ recognise there are exciting prospects for the growth of AFL football in PNG, but they wish to ensure this growth continues to be managed in a coordinated and carefully considered manner and in accordance with the AFL's overall plans for football in Australia and internationally. To that end the AFL and AFLQ want to acknowledge the AFL PNG Board, the organisational and governance structures it has established and in particular the financial management that it has been so careful to implement. That foundation will be (the) base of exciting growth into the future and the AFL and AFLQ are firmly committed to the future of AFL football in PNG under the guidance of AFL PNG."
This message is very consistent when international football is discussed with the AFL - the focus on solid structures, volunteer support, rigorous financial plans and of course an emphasis on junior development with elite pathways. There have been indications that the AFL has been burnt before on international development, and with all areas of footy asking for more money within Australia, any increases in funds to other countries will need to meet strict criteria.
World Footy News