Contributed by: Brett Northey
Although South Africa has grabbed most of the headlines for international footy development in 2006, there is little doubt that Papua New Guinea is the most advanced country outside of Australia in terms of large numbers of juniors (somewhere in the thousands), a defined elite pathway through AFL Queensland and several adult leagues (also supporting thousands of players) spread across PNG's diverse geography. We've reported on many of their exciting junior development programs, but here we have a look at a range of stories, from the thriving senior leagues that should start to see an influx of talented juniors in the next few years, to HIV prevention programs. Of course at the top governmental level Australia and PNG have exchanged a few unpleasantries in recent times, but hopefully this is just a tiny blip in what has generally been a very friendly relationship.
Unlike Australian Football in most countries, footy in PNG has reached a level that demands media attention in their local papers, and the Post-Courier and The National do not disappoint. What better way to give WFN readers a feel for the game in Australia's northern neighbour than to show you what the locals read. Reproduced here are articles from the above two papers.
PNG Post-Courier Online
Bulldogs bag AFL flag (from above link click on Sport and then the relevant article)
Captain Peter Meli and son Johnson's performance steered University Bulldogs to the Port Moresby AFL premiership on Saturday. The Bulldogs finished strongly edging out Moresby 7.7-49 to 6.3-39 in front of a huge crowd at the Colts ground. It was Bulldogs' fourth premiership. The finals started on a high note with both sides looking dangerous from the first bounce. However, it was the three goals from Meli and another from son Johnson that turned the heat on for Bulldogs to bark home. Moresby used the wind in the opening term, slamming home two goals and one behind to surge to the lead in the first quarter. Bulldogs rallied but managed only one goal in first quarter. It was in the second quarter that the Bulldogs asserted some authority in their game.
Bulldogs scored four goals and three behinds through Overa Gibson, Aria Ila and young Meli. Moresby struggled throughout the second quarter as the Bulldogs got their act together and surged to the lead at the interval, 5.3-33 to 2.1-13. The third and fourth quarters began on an equal note with both teams eager to step up in attack and defence. Moresby, especialy was trying desperately to peg back the lead by playing good positional football to shut out the Bulldogs. Moresby, sensing the momentum worked hard in positional play to have the better of Bulldogs. This paid off with Moresby taking out the third quarter scoring 2.2 to Bulldogs 1.3.
But that was enough for Bulldogs to maintain their lead at the final change 6.6-42 to 4.3-27. The final quarter saw Bulldogs playing more defensively to shut out any comebacks from Moresby to win 7.7-49 to 6.3-39. Bulldogs' club patron Kenneth Sumbuk said they won the game because of discipline which had been the story with the team's success this year. Bulldogs have not lost a grand final match in the last four years after the club made a come back in 2000.
PNG Post-Courier Online
Gulf juniors set for tour (from above link click on Sport and then the relevant article)
AFL Gulf is preparing to send its four Under-16 girls for to the upcoming Queensland Country Championships in Cairns, Australia at end of this month (October). The four girls are Ruth Haiveta, Cecelia Iru of Kerema High School and Delynah Avae and Jireh Leka of Ilakareta Primary School. AFL Gulf co-ordinator Peter Magaea said the girls would team up with their other contingent from Mt Hagen and Port Moresby to training before the team leaves for Cairns. AFL Gulf has also won eight spots for the national camp in Port Moresby from November 4-6. The selection was done during the recent National AFL Junior championship in Lae last month. Magaea said it was important for the selected children to attend the camp because another train-on-squad would be identified for the State championships in Australia next year. "I call on the parents to continue to support their children with the program", Magaea said.
He also thanked the Gulf Provincial Government, AFL Queensland through its representative AFL PNG and corporate sponsors and parents for their continued support of the junior development program in the province and the country as a whole. Magaea also called for business and other corporate bodies to step in help build AFL Gulf in the province. Meanwhile this also the first for AFL PNG to send away a female team to oversease. This is a new step towards AFL PNG's steadily growing development programs in the country.
Laying down rules for players
TWENTY-ONE coaches and players with AFL-PNG undertook a week-long HIV/AIDS peer education course last week. The course was aimed at educating rules footballers to keep themselves away from catching the HIV/Aids virus and be physically and mentally fit. During the graduation last Friday, the lifestyle co-ordinator for AFL-PNG Highlands and Momase region Reverend Moses Karl commended the Mt Hagen-based Anglican AIDS Care for taking the initiative to educate people in rules football. Karl said peer education was a vital tool for young people to share information among their own peer groups. A community leader from Mul District, Councilor Steven Kiap commended both Anglican and AFL-PNG for educating young people in their respective villages. Kiap said that the HIV/AIDS is spreading like bushfire and young people must know how to keep themselves away from catching the virus.
UPNG forge ties with sports teams
SPORTING codes carrying the university name stand to benefit from moves by
the University of PNG to forge partnerships with them.
This had been made known recently to the university's rugby union and
Australian rules clubs.
That partnership had already started with the administration financially
supporting the University Rugby Union Club before their grand final
appearance in the city competition last month, and last week to University
Bulldogs in their premiership campaign.
UPNG Vice-Chancellor Prof Ross Hynes made it known to executives of both
codes that plans were afoot to have them take over a playing field each and
turn it into their home ground.
It was the university's intention to improve the playing fields to have
grand stands and club facilities.
The University Rugby Union Club will be used as a model for the other
sporting codes, including soccer.
Last Wednesday, Prof Hynes told executives of the University Bulldogs Club
to co-operate in partnership with the university to turn these plans into
Prof Hynes had maintained that forging a relationship with the sporting
codes was part of the university's community relations programme as not only
are the players students, but also from the wider community.
University rugby union club president Emmanuel Narokobi said with their
current sponsorship from New Guinea Energy, the club had plans to establish
a scholarship for a student playing in the club also.
The University Piggies successfully won the premiership title this season.
University Bulldogs treasurer Joe Passingan said the club were excited by
the university's plans and would play their part in building a home ground.
The University Soccer Club are the other successful sporting team in the
World Footy News welcomes anyone with an interest in PNG footy to contact us if they could assist with covering this growth region of Australian Football. We can provide the contacts and submitting stories is straight forward. You can be based anywhere in the world, all you need is the enthusiasm to put forward a few volunteer hours each month. Contact Brett here.
World Footy News