PNG Juniors at AFL/AIS Draft Camp
Wednesday, December 12 2007 @ 05:41 pm ACDT
Contributed by: Rod Shaw
Two PNG juniors recently attended Australia’s Elite AIS/AFL academy camp. The players Stanis Susuve and John James have played the past year in the Queensland local competitions and were the only international players selected for attendance. As many of our readers would know, AFLPNG has a programme that sees their elite athletes competing at state level in Queensland providing a talented player pathway which is clear and logical.
Selection for this academy is from the AFL National Under 16 Championships with the best 30 players under the age of 16 selected Australian-wide. There is a fair chance that the majority of these players will be drafted in the next two years.
James was outstanding for Coolangatta in 2007 and a strong contributor to the Brisbane Lions Reserves team. This resulted in his selection for the League’s team of the year. Susuve, a QLD Under 16 player in 2006, has developed significantly whilst playing for the Zillmere Eagles in the State League. He finished off as their MVP in their run to win the Reserve Grade premiership where he averaged five goals in each of the finals games.
Both will be eligible for Queensland Under 18s in 2008 and will be at the Zillmere Eagles and also working for the AFL in development. AFLPNG CEO Andrew Cadzow was particularly enthused by the boys’ results as it set an excellent example for PNG boys and girls to follow. “Both boys are very close to the next level. Continued hard work and fixing up some poor habits will help over the next 12 months. More importantly we are now seeing hundreds of players who are of these boys’ standard working their way through the AFLPNG Talented Player Pathway,” Cadzow said.
Though possibly slightly overage for the group the opportunity these boys have been rewarded with is a great indicator to the youth players world wide that the AFL is interested in them and not just converting the Irish lads from gaelic. Susuve and James will spend seven days under the guidance of the Academy team headed by Alan McConnell and assisted by many coaches including Lions Legend Michael Voss.
Importantly for the future of the International Game and player development, PNG have a memorandum of understanding with the AFL. The basis of this is that as long as the players are AFLPNG placements in QLD they remain PNG players, notwithstanding scholarship time in Australia. This means they are eligible to be selected as international rookies on AFL lists.