The bald figures state that over 22,000 attended the first AFL game for premiership points in New Zealand in 2013 and yet just over 13,000 attended this year. Did that make the venture unsuccessful as the AFL seek to expand the game? In a letter from Peter Summers, President of St Kilda, he provides his view which is anything but negative.
Sure, we know that the St Kilda Saints will be playing their annual ANZAC Day game in Wellington, this time against the Brisbane Lions, but it is the opportunity that it affords NZ football to showcase their talent which is truly exciting for those with an interest in football on the east side of the Tasman.
Firstly there will be a two match series for the 2nd time between the NZ Hawks and the South Pacific Nations. Last year the series was won 2-0 by the New Zealand Hawks.
The South Pacific Nations will be looking to take revenge, and have a strong side capable of sparking an upset win. Their team is heavily weighted with NZ’ers such as St Kilda International Scholarship holder Joe Baker-Thomas, alongside some of the key players in New Zealand AFL, including Andrew Howison and Shane Leat. They will be coached by long time NZ representative Andrew Congalton. An exciting crop of young Kiwis in Levi Inglis, Kyle Smith, Te Kopa Tipene-Thomas, James Little, Ben Miller will be part of the team who have represented New Zealand at age group level with distinction. A strong contingent of players from the Pacific Islands will be joining them. Ha’ele Finau and Fohe Latu from Tonga, Sam Bua from the Solomon Islands and Chris Cakabou from Fiji are all leading players from their respective islands.
It appears that this year representatives from PNG will not be part of the team.
The Solomon Islands were recently and tragically battered by the tropical depression storm that formed into cyclone Ita – with widespread damage and numerous fatalities in the capital Honiara. The week before the SIAFL season had kicked off but not surprisingly round 2 was unable to proceed. The resilience of the locals highlighted though by the resumption last weekend with the playing of the previous weeks postponed matches.
Perhaps more importantly - the community of the SIAFL has been recognised in the Solomon Star newspaper for their efforts - here at White River in helping get the White River health clinic cleaned up and back into operation - crucial to help combat the spread of disease in the coming weeks.
On the back of the Coca Cola PNG Binatangs winning the 2014 AFL U/16s South Pacific Cup held this week in Coffs Harbour – the footy attention of PNG swing back to matters domestic. This weekend sees the Grand Final of the pre-season tournament for the Port Moresby senior competition.
The 2014 instalment of the AFL Under 16s South Pacific Cup wrapped up this week in Coffs Harbour - north of Newcastle in NSW. The South Pacific Cup pitted the New Zealand Hawks, Papua New Guinea Binatangs and the Oceania squad drawn from the nations of Nauru, Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands.
Game 6 of the tournament was played on Tuesday between the Coca Cola PNG Binatangs and the NZ Hawks. After which the undefeated Binatangs were crowned 2014 champions. On Wednesday there were two matches involving the South Pacific main squad against the Australian indigenous Boomerangs side as well as a match between a South Pacific development side against an 'All Nations' side.
Updates from Game 5 of the South Pacific Cup in Coffs Harbour courtesy of AFL South Pacific.
What another brilliant afternoon of Pacific football in Coffs Harbour! The rain was heavy and the toughness was even heavier. Oceania took on PNG in a fierce battle in the wet! PNG came away with the win but had to work very hard for it! The final score doesn’t pay justice to how competitive the game was. Katah Siwee again provided some highlights with another 3 hangers to his collection for the week!
The 2014 U/15 South Pacific Cup has been running across the weekend in sunny Coffs Harbour. With the Coca Cola PNG Binatangs entering as the reigning champs taking on the New Zealand Hawks and the combined Oceania squad (drawn from Nauru, Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu and the Solomons).
NZ hosted their U16 National Championships. These Championships involve 3 teams of invited footballers held after the regional Hawks Cup competitions take place within the schools. By inviting a select number of students to attend it ensures that the best available talent can attend and that issues such as various regions lacking enough to field a team does not impact on whether an interested , and talented, footballer gets the opportunity to attend. The tournament involved the best Under 16 AFL athletes in New Zealand, and featured many players who have, or will go on to play for New Zealand.
The three teams, the Giants, the Suns and the Eagles, contested the Under 16 National Championships and itwas the Eagles who triumphed, led by strong performances from Te Kopa Tipene-Thomas, Carlos Donnell-Brown, Nathan Lenihan and Utusa’itoa Ah Kuoi.