AFLNZ are seeking to maximise the impact of the St Kilda/Sydney game in Wellington. Leveraging on the Anzac Day game for AFL development provides a huge opportunity to initiate or further develop interest in participation.
As such “Have a Go” days are organised at Wellington’s picturesque Test cricket oval of The Basin Reserve on Friday 26th April and then again at the home of Wellington footy at Hutt Park in the nearby Hutt Valley on Sunday 28th April.
Hopefully this can boost numbers in the Wellington region so that a formal AFL competition can be held in 2013 after the competition never got started in 2012. There will be roles available locally for every interest level from committee, to umpiring all the way through to players!!
Upon the completion of the last match on Thursday of the South Pacific Cup the 30 player squad was selected to take on the Kickstart Flying Boomerangs at 9 am tomorrow (Friday) morning. This initial squad will be reduced further to 25 to compete in the NAB AFL U/16 national championships to be held in Sydney in July. Congratulations to all those who took part in the tournament and especially to those selected in the squad below.
Days 3 and 4 of the AFL South Pacific Cup played out yesterday (Wednesday) and today (Thursday) at the Tony Ireland Stadium in Townsville. The Papua New Guinea Binatangs lived up to pre tournament favouratism and completed an unbeaten run through the tournament to take out the title. Unbeaten by a whisker though after the draw against Oceania on Tuesday.
Upon the completion of the last match on Thursday, the 30 player squad was selected to take on the Kickstart Flying Boomerangs at 9 am tomorrow (Friday) morning. This initial squad will be reduced further to 25 to compete in the NAB AFL U/16 national championships to be held in Sydney in July. See separate article for the squad.
Sydney born Mick Byrne's playing past in Aussie Rules helps him fit neatly into the Rugby Union Super 15’s Blues co-coaching jigsaw. Like many Sydney youngsters Mick Byrne began his sporting life on the league field. Then one of his schoolmates persuaded him to bring his teenage 2m frame to Aussie Rules training.
"I really liked it because of the freedom of running and the kicking that was involved," Byrne said. So in his last year at school, Byrne ended up playing rugby on Thursday, Aussie Rules on Saturday and Rugby League on Sunday.
He made an Aussie Rules rep side as a ruckman and centre half forward and signed a contract as an interstate player and headed off to Melbourne. Byrne went to the Melbourne Demons, subsequently Hawthorn where he won a Grand Final winner's medal, and the Sydney Swans in a 167 game career over a 13-year career.
Tuesday was day 2 of the AFL South Pacific Cup tournament at Tony Ireland Stadium in Townsville (QLD); pitting PNG, NZ and the Oceania Squads against each other. The game on Tuesday saw PNG play Oceania in an extremely close encounter that finished in a draw. The polish of the PNG side was evident all day but the spirited work ethic of the Oceania side pressured PNG into mistakes and Oceania were good enough to capitalize. Observers rating this as the game of the carnival so far.
Players representing the South Pacific in the curtain raiser against the NZ Hawks will participate in an AFL Combine on Wednesday 23rd April. AFL Combines are underpinned by an exciting testing format that provides participants with the opportunity to compete in a number of skills and athletic testing.
Each of the events within the programme has a focus on fun and looks to provide those involved with motivation to improve themselves in varying facets of skill and fitness.
A variety of talent scouts will watch carefully as the South Pacific players are put through their paces.
The first ever AFL New Zealand High Performance awards will be held on April 24th at Macs Function Centre in Wellington on the eve of the ANZAC Day Clash between the Sydney Swans and St Kilda.
The awards night is an annual celebration of the performance and efforts of those involved in New Zealand representative teams as well as recognizing the success of those with New Zealand heritage in the sport of AFL.
With the new AFL South Pacific and Oceania junior talent pathway structure now seeing first the Oceania tournament held last December (for Tonga, Vanuatu, Solomons, Fiji and Nauru) ; and the next step being the South Pacific Cup where the Oceania combine takes on the regional powers of PNG and NZ; it is a watershed moment now that the inaugural South Pacific Cup has kicked off on Monday at the Tony Ireland Stadium in Townsville
Monday (April 8): Day 1 started today with 3 terrific games of football between PNG, NZ & Oceania (Tonga, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Nauru). PNG were in control of both of their games and look like the team to beat!
The New Zealand Hawks senior team will take part in a two match series against a South Pacific selection. The first game will be the curtain raiser to the AFL match at Westpac Stadium and commence at 4.30pm.
The NZ Hawks team last played in January at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium against the Australian AFL AIS Academy team. The New Zealanders performed well against the elite youth of Australia but were defeated by 41 points.
The South Pacific team will feature several International Scholarship recipients that no doubt have the talent but will need to overcome the seasoned experience of the New Zealand Hawks contingent.
The second game will be at the Wellington AFL’s home ground of Hutt Park at 12.00pm on April 28th. This will be a great opportunity for locals to view the game up close and from the boundary line.
The Papua New Guinea U16 Binatangs arrived in Cairns for two footy matches this weekend en route to their appointment this week in Townsville for the South Pacific Cup, and if the show they put on today is any indication, the New Zealand and Oceania teams will be in for a torrid time.
Their visit to Cairns started on Saturday 6th April with a scratch match against the North Cairns Tigers U18 team. Binatangs coach, Murray Bird, admitted “We didn’t really keep score…but I’m told it was about 17 goals to 3.” The Tigers are no mugs, but they got a taste of what this PNG side has to offer.