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Tuesday, November 21 2017 @ 08:45 pm ACDT

IC17 Preview: Papua New Guinea Flames

International Cup 2017

While the Papua New Guinea mens team - the Mosquitos - are the reigning champions the story is somewhat different for their female compatriots - the Flames - who are making a return to the International Cup after participating in the first ever women's division in 2011. In that competition the Flames were out gunned by the Irish, Canadian and US sides. The sole victory over the Australian Indigenous and Multicultural side. 6 years on and the Flames will be looking to make their presence more well known on the field.

The Country and Australian Football

While Rugby League is the ‘National Sport’ of Papua New Guinea, Australian Football has also has a long heritage and Australian Football was arguably the number one code post WWII and up to the 1970s. As Ron Barassi having visited PNG twice in the previous 18 months where Mr Dick Kidby (with assistance from the North Melbourne Football Club) had been appointed full-time national GM of PNG football; Barassi opined in the press in April 1978 that even after the visit to Ireland 10 years earlier that PNG was the place with the best chance of developing Australian Football. He noted the nation was evenly divided between soccer, rugby and Australian Football. In his words “We would be crazy if we didn’t make every effort to develop a formidable football force in that country”.

Papua New Guinea has been playing international football for a long time. From fielding an U/17 team in the Australian Teal Cup in 1979 to competing and winning at the Arufura Games during the 1990s. This was despite a stagnation in Australian support during the 1980s which in fairness was a challenging financial period for the VFL and its clubs with a national league seen as a priority – that and revenue from selling licences!

AFL PNG falls under the development eye of AFL Development Manager South Pacific, Mr Ben Drew. There are 2 Boards who run AFL PNG. Key stakeholders include the AFL and the PNG Government. In the past 12 months funding has been accessed via the Australian Governments Pacific Sports Partnership (PSP) to put towards improving governance in each (South Pacific Country – in particular, PNG, Fiji and Nauru) country; train & educate community leaders and staff; Hire more Development staff;provide more equipment & also provide more expert training & Education. “With great connection & support from AFLQLD, utilising their staff to provide training in program delivery we have seen a huge increase in knowledge and professionalism of all South Pacific staff & Volunteers at all levels across each country.”

With respect to AFL PNG specifically and a focus on the 3 years since their 2014 IC success which in itself was building upon a strong growth in the game across the regions of PNG along with improved pathways including the AFL PNG Academy program. Ben Drew worked closely with key PNG stakeholders to oversee the governance focussed evolution via a strong Board directing attention to Senior Community Football across PNG along with the national opportunities via the Mozzies and the Womens Flames. A separate Board is focussed on the development and underage programs; including hiring 20 Full time PNG staff to deliver programs across 8 regions. The two Boards have helped produce a huge increase in participation from the introductory Niukick program to the Senior Community Footy across the nation.

Queensland is a vital cog in the Talent Pathway with both boys and girls sides competing at various times in QLD state or regional championships. Under 14 and Under 16 PNG girls teams have regularly travelled to QLD to compete in state carnivals including the 2016 AFL Queensland Youth Girls State Championships. The PNG Flames includes a number of players with QLD experience in Brigid and Alison Gaur (Aspley), Eliana Kaputin (Zillmere) and Miriam Agita (Townsville).

Strengths and Weaknesses The comparison to the USA Freedom is a fairly clear illustration of the key physical weakness. On average the US side is 9 cm taller (172 to 163) and 10 kg heavier (69 to 59). However - the Flames have youth, and perhaps pace on their side - an average age of around 21 compared to the more senior Freedom at 31.

Players to Watch Taiva Lavai made the 2011 World Team and returns on the verge of her 24th birthday a more mature player. She will be keen to set the example.
Look out also for the inspirational coach Johnathan Ila.

PNG Flames - IC Schedule

The Flames will be well tested - drawn against the debutant Crusaders and then matched against the Freedom before taking on the Irish powerhouse.

Round Opponent date time Venue
1 European Crusaders Sun Aug 6 12:15 pm Royal Park - Ransford Oval
2 USA Wed Aug 9 10:45 am Wesley College, Glen Waverley
3 Ireland Sun Aug 13 2:00 pm Hallam

PNG Flames - IC17 Squad

The Flames will be lead on field by Prudence Sindriwen from the Bomana Cats. Coach Jonathan Ila and team manager is Josephine Ila.

No Name DOB Hgt Wgt Club
1 Brigid GAUR 17/6/1998 150 cm 61 kg Aspley
2 Alison GAUR 30/5/1992 155 cm 62 kg Aspley
3 Vaine LAI 22/11/1996 156 cm 60 kg Koboni
4 Tonok HEDWICK 27/7/1992 156 cm 60 kg Gerehu Magpies
5 Lilah Esther MALABAG 3/9/2000 157 cm 54 kg Oilmin Kokofas
6 Alice ALOIS 28/9/1996 159 cm 56 kg Koboni
7 Valerie MAI 9/9/1997 159 cm 61 kg Bomana Cats
8 Manicha METTAKAISAVA 4/12/1992 160 cm 55 kg Oilmin Bombers
9 Miriam AGITA 9/9/1998 160 cm 63 kg Townsville
10 Virginia KIWA 18/1/1996 160 cm 62 kg St.Kevin’s
11 Alphonsa BAI 7/12/1989 160 cm 65 kg Gerehu Magpies
12 Warambina ANITA 6/7/1995 160 cm 56 kg Salle Dogs
14 Vanessa PISEP 4/10/1997 162 cm 54 kg Salle Dogs
15 Taiva LAVAI 16/9/1993 162 cm 51 kg Koboni
16 Bauwase MAUREEN 16/9/1988 162 cm 65 kg Lamana Dockers
18 Fatima SOVARA 27/9/1996 163 cm 66 kg Gerehu Magpies
19 Jacqueline MCDOA 26/11/1994 164 cm 65 kg Mt Hagen
20 Florentyna RAY 11/7/2000 165 cm 60 kg Bomana Cats
21 Vincensiana KAIPU 7/8/1999 166 cm 52 kg Lamana Dockers
22 Piwen KUTAN 1/11/1998 166 cm 63 kg Kavieng
23 Jessley MELI 24/3/1998 166 cm 50 kg Salle Dogs
24 Eliana KAPUTIN 20/5/1991 166 cm 63 kg Zillmere
25 Prudence SINDRIWEN 17/1/1991 167 cm 50 kg Bomana Cats
26 Phyllia PISEP 19/1/1999 167 cm 50 kg Salle Dogs
27 Ruth CUTTING 21/12/1998 167 cm 58 kg Manunda Hawks
28 Samantha BANDI 22/5/2001 170 cm 68 kg Cranbourne
29 Iki LOREEN 24/4/1992 170 cm 75 kg Oilmin Kokofas
30 Elma EMIL 7/4/1995 175 cm 60 kg Koboni

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