Contributed by: Brett Northey
The 2006 Papua New Guinea National titles have been postponed to September, due to concerns that too many regions could not afford to attend. This is a reminder that for all footy's great gains in PNG in recent years, the country is by no means weathy and travel is a major commitment. On a brighter note, there is a suggestion that an Aussie side may travel to PNG to play, and the Arafura Games are on the agenda.
In the article Rules titles back to September in The National, Wendy Katusele reports AFL-PNG Council president Thomas Gori saying that since most of the centres were not financially capable of travelling to Lae for the event, the council saw fit to postpone it. The championships will now be held on Sept 15-18 in Lae. This was particularly important as the players would have missed out on putting their case forward for selection in the Mosquitoes for up coming international events. Even a major centre like Port Moresby had been in doubt.
After the championships a 40-man squad will be announced, with the possibility that a team from Australia may visit in October, and that PNG may attend the Arafura Games in 2007. Japan used the biennial tournament as part of their preparations in 2005. The organisers have previously expressed to WFN their interest in having more international squads participate in the Darwin series (readers can search WFN for more on the Arafura Games).
Keeping a national squad active in non-International Cup years is one of the big challenges for all countries keen to improve their national side. New Zealand are doing so through the Australian Country Championships, South Africa have courtesy of the AFL indigenous player tour earlier this year, and a host of European countries are playing internationals throughout 2006. In fact most of the bigger footy nations now have at least one international on their calendar this year.
World Footy News