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Saturday, November 18 2017 @ 06:59 pm ACDT

Third Annual AFL Oceania Cup all set to go

Oceania

December is now a key month on the International Footy calendar.  The reason is the now annual Youth AFL Oceania Cup.  The tournament kicked off in Fiji in 2009 with Tonga perhaps the surprise inaugural victor.  Last year PNG made their debut (after various circumstances conspired against an appearance in 2009) and were comfortable winners as Tonga played hosts. 

 

This time around, and it’s back to Suva, Fiji, for the third tournament – scheduled from December 13 to 17.  Followers of Australian Football internationally, and more particularly anyone paying attention to this years International Cup would likely be aware of the IC debut of both Tonga and Fiji.  Each nation fielded relatively young squads.  Amongst key players, at the IC tournament, were the inaugural Oceania Cup captains, in Peni Mahina (Tonga) and Dylan Wolfgramm (Fiji).  Mahina has gone on to be signed as an international scholarship holder with GWS, and Wolfgramm starred on the field for Essendon District Div 1 side Avondale Heights under the tutor ledge of Brisbane premiership star Chris Johnson.  It should be noted that Wolfgramm came third in the Avondale Heights senior best and fairest, 4.5 votes behind winner Johnson, and 3 votes ahead of former Essendon player (4 games in 2008) Rhys Magin.  Keeping quality company.

The FijiLive site reports that the Fiji Junior Tribe will boast players like Solo Navuso and Richard Nieluvu who were members of the successful senior squad that won the AFL International Cup Division 2.

Once again, the AFL is using Pacific ethnic-origin players to help promote the tournament, and this year will see Nic Naitanui (Fiji) and Israel Folau (Tonga) appearing.

The Fijitimes reports AFL Fiji development officer Glen Butler as declaring hosting of the third tournament as a milestone for AFL Fiji; providing locals with an opportunity to witness some top quality footy.

AFL Asia-Pacific Development Manager Andrew Cadzow said the tournament gives young players throughout the Pacific region the opportunity to play Australia’s number one sport at a higher level.

"We look forward to a fantastic week of competition in Suva. Not only will teams be playing for the Oceania Cup, players will be vying for a place in the South Pacific team that will compete in the 2012 AFL Under 16 Championships in Sydney.”

"We hope to increase the number of Pacific born players in AFL lists within the next five years to join the likes of Hawthorn's Shane Savage and Kurt Heatherly (both born in New Zealand) and North Melbourne's Aaron Edwards (Samoa). “

"Australian football brings diverse communities together and can have positive effects both on and off the field. We hope the youth of the Pacific both in Australia and throughout the region will connect with the game and harness the opportunity it can provide," he said.
The week
will again include an AFL International Combine
that will test the best 50 players' athletic ability. It will be a chance to again demonstrate they can match some of Australia’s best Under 16 talent, providing benchmarked metrics for the benefit of AFL coaches and recruiters.
Once again AFL’s Under 15 Indigenous squad - the Flying Boomerangs – will also travel to Fiji to complete against Oceania and South Pacific representative teams. The squad will also engage with the Pacific players in cultural exchanges.  Last year we saw the Boomerangs comfortably account for the Oceania side without PNG players, but, the full strength South Pacific side managed a win.

Nations participating or being represented include :

  • Fiji
  • New Zealand
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Nauru, Samoa
  • Tonga
  • Solomon Islands
  • Vanuatu

 

The Solomon Islands had debuted last year, however, financial constraints will see only a couple of players head over to join in with a ‘combined’ side.  The economics for individual nations remains a major challenge.  While a highlight of the 2010 tournament was the debut of the Solomon Sharks; it may well be that the 2011 tournament highlight will be the international debut of the Vanuatu Volcanoes.

 

 WFN wishes all players and officials all the best for the tournament.

 

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