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IC08 hero signed by Gold Coast FC

Oceania

In some respects the breakthrough that many of us involved in international footy have been awaiting has occurred. Papua New Guinea's International Cup hero, 17 year old Amua Pirika, has been signed by the Gold Coast Football Club, the proposed 17th club in the Australian Football League.

Pirika first came to prominence when he kicked three goals for PNG against a Queensland Colts side in the Queensland Under 16 championships in 2007. In 2008 he played for Nambour in the AFLQ Northern Area U18 competition, booting a league leading 65 goals. At just 17 he finished equal 11th in the 2008 Australian Football International Cup best player voting, and was 3rd in the goalkicking with 15. That included 4 in the semi-final against South Africa, previewing his grand final form.

Originally listed for IC08 as 184cm, he was obviously in a growth spurt as he was soon quoted at 190cm - certainly he played tall in the Cup grand final at the MCG (Mozzies at last in MCG thriller), taking several strong marks in an unstoppable burst, booting four goals in total to drag the Mosquitoes to a come-from-behind victory. And for tens of thousands of fans gathering for the following match, an AFL final between the Western Bulldogs and Hawthorn, he provided a great highlight, curling a check-side goal through the big sticks after the siren to put the icing on the cake of PNG's 8 point win.

In September '08 worldfootynews.com's Rod Shaw interviewed PNG National Operations Manager Peter Cates and asked who he thought might attract AFL interest - the answer was John James and Amua Pirika (see PNG - where to now?). Pirika's father played Australian football and was close to Navu Maha, a joint winner of the player of the tournament award at the 2005 International Cup. The Gold Coast's latest recruit lost his father to a stabbing many years ago and has been mentored by Maha and Overa Gibson, both PNG champions. There was a classic moment in the IC08 grand final that transcended sport. PNG needed a spark up forward and Pirika was moved forward and the tireless Gibson swung into defence in a match-winning move that was symbolic of a passing of PNG footy into a new era.

The Gold Coast's recruitment chief is Scott Clayton, recently lured from the Western Bulldogs where he secured the signing of two Fijian athletes, neither with Aussie Rules backgrounds. He spoke with the Gold Coast Bulletin about the selection of Pirika in Coast sign PNG teen.

"He showed enough and is certainly worth a punt," said Clayton. "He can jump and he looks like he's going to be a reasonable size. It's now up to us to develop him. We're excited about it and this is just another example that we (GCFC) have an open mind and we're going to be creative."

Congratulations must also go to all the staff and volunteers involved with Australian Football in PNG over many years. No doubt all of them, such as Scott Reid and Andrew Cadzow and many others, will be feeling that their belief in the game in PNG is now being vindicated.

The Gold Coast begin their journey in Victoria's TAC Cup Under 18s this season, with the expectation they will move into the VFL in 2010 and AFL in 2011. Being on their list now is no guarantee, but gives Amua Pirika a great opportunity to have all the very best football development possible and the best chance at becoming the first player to learn the game outside of Australia and go on to make the AFL. If Pirika is successful, expect AFL clubs to start paying very close attention to Australia's northern neighbour.


Pirika in action for Papua New Guinea against the Peace Team at IC08

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IC08 hero signed by Gold Coast FC | 7 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
IC08 hero signed by Gold Coast FC
Authored by: Luc Le Quiniat on Friday, January 30 2009 @ 11:29 am ACDT
Video here:

www.foxsports.com.au,,AFL%20News_10826,00.html

IC08 hero signed by Gold Coast FC
Authored by: Brett Northey on Friday, January 30 2009 @ 12:21 pm ACDT

That link didn't quite work, the same thing happened when I pasted it in. Hopefully this html version will be okay:

PNG recruit

Excellent report, although a poor introduction from the news desk with the suggestion that they don't play much Aussie Rules in PNG. Just because Rugby League is number one there doesn't mean that footy isn't also played widely. A figure of around 20,000 players was mentioned recently. It isn't like Fiji where athletes have been plucked from another sport.

But as I said, a good report, which mentioned the International Cup and had some encouraging words from coach and former West Coast Eagles star Guy McKenna.

It's a perfect introduction for Pirika, getting the chance to develop as the club does, not having to be AFL ready in his 1st or 2nd year. I'm sure everyone in international footy wishes him all the best to blaze a trail for others to follow.

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Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN

IC08 hero signed by Gold Coast FC
Authored by: Sean Finlayson on Sunday, February 01 2009 @ 11:36 am ACDT

Congratulations to Amua if he does well it bodes really well for the future of footy in PNG. He was outstanding in the International Cup final. Personally I'm suprised that based on his IC performance and consistency Scott Fleming from Canada was not picked up by an AFL club. He is about the same age (even though the AFL Canada website lists him as 39 years old!), playing on the Gold Coast, equally talented and what's more - taller. Anyways, great to see the new AFL club thinking outside the square !

IC08 hero signed by Gold Coast FC
Authored by: Troy Thompson on Wednesday, February 04 2009 @ 07:34 am ACDT

Although I cant say for sure, I would say Scotty Clayton was sitting at the G with the Bulldogs before their match against Hawthorn, having a look at the IC final taking place. He saw something he might be able to take to the his new job at the GC and the rest as they say..... The point being - if the IC was not played in Melbourne would he now be set to play for the GC club? I guess if it was played at another Australian capital he could also be spotted in the same way at Subiaco or Football Park, but out of Australia - probably not.

IC08 hero signed by Gold Coast FC
Authored by: Troy Thompson on Wednesday, February 04 2009 @ 07:40 am ACDT

I assume that as they (GC) have not been granted an AFL license at this stage that Pirika has not been listed officially in any way. And that as stated last year he would not be considered as a Queenslander and still available for any club to put him on as an International Scholarship player at any time?

IC08 hero signed by Gold Coast FC
Authored by: Brett Northey on Wednesday, February 04 2009 @ 02:44 pm ACDT


At last check the actual signing process was still being completed - I'm not really at liberty to reveal details, but we'll publish the info when it has been finalised.

As to whether Clayton saw Pirika in the IC final, I don't know. Are you just speculating because the match was a curtain raiser to his club's match?

Certainly if held anywhere in Australia I'd expect scouts from most clubs to have a look at future ICs. But true, much less likely to have as many of them travel overseas.

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Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN

IC08 hero signed by Gold Coast FC
Authored by: Brett Northey on Wednesday, February 11 2009 @ 12:01 am ACDT

Updated with some nice photos of Pirika in against courtesy of the guys at AFLPNG.

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Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN