A number of hopefuls from Fiji, PNG, Tonga, Nauru, South Africa, NZ and even Denmark have been part of the AFL's International Scholarship scheme over the past eight years without the ultimate success of playing in the AFL. Now there are just two Kiwi's at St Kilda holding that torch of what seems to be a fading light for international development.
The signing of an International Scholarship player is usually heralded with a feature article on the AFL club's website, perhaps an article on the AFL website and even sometimes some local press in the home town or country. But when their time is up they seem to quietly disappear.
The latest to 'disappear' from AFL clubs are Siope Ngata who was a scholarship holder at Hawthorn and Giovanni Mountain-Silbery who was a scholarship holder at St Kilda.
The 2015 Oceania Cup at Furnival Park in Toorak, Suva (Fiji).
Kicking off on Monday with a round robin lightning premiership - the Nauru Stars got off to a flier and held on to finish the day the undefeated winners. Following that was 3 days of footy as the Nauru Suns sought to regain their title of junior champions of Oceania.
Action from the tournament (above left), Fiji junior Tribe (above right - photo FijiSun).
The 2015 AFL Under 15 Oceania Cup is tonight gearing up after the arrival of competing teams. Being again held in Fiji, the action gets underway tomorrow at Furnivale Park in Toorak (Suva). Once again the opening day is a lightning premiership format.
This years tournament sees 4 teams playing. Tonga, Fiji and Nauru have full squads while the 4th side is the Pacific All Stars. The tournament will wind up on Thursday with finals after lunch followed after presentations by an exhibition match between the Fiji U/14s and the U/14 Australian Wanderers.
The usual venue at Albert Park in Suva is under construction works which is why the alternate venue is being used.
The AFL national and rookie drafts have been and gone – so what’s going on with this December 2nd draft? Well – for starters it’s conducted by AFL New Zealand.
Tomorrow evening, 7pm Wednesday December 2nd, will see the draft take place live via social media. The draft can be followed on twitter (#AFLNZPremiership).
The draft is to allocate players to one of 4 competing teams in the 2016 AFL New Zealand Premiership. Captains have already been announced for the Northern Suns (James Kusel), Western Crows (Jared Court), Central Giants (David Rattenbury) and Southern Saints (Michael Boyce).
According to AFLNZ 106 players have signed on from regions spanning Northland to Otago. A further 30 players are planned to be added to the list subsequently to finalise the squads. The draft will involve the first 7 rounds of selections with 48 players across those selections to be added to the squads currently only including captains. The remainder of selections will take place in January after the completion of provincial matches.
Meanwhile in Fiji it’s been a big Fiji Day and AFL Fiji joined in the party by holding a Fiji Day Cup Under 15s competition at the FNU Nasinu Campus in Suva. 8 boys teams and girls from 6 schools also participating. Many of the kids have been participating in Bula Kick programs, as well as in conjunction with the Fiji National Sports Commission/Ministry of Health running the Tailevu Wellness program. The Fiji Day Cup is an important stepping stone for new and young AFL Fiji talent with the possibility of national representation in the Oceania Cup up for grabs.
It’s all happening in Papau New Guinea this weekend – from Gary Ablett at Boroko (Port Moresby) to the AFL Lae mens and womens grand finals.
In Port Moresby, AFL PNG is holding a Niukick Gala Day at the AFL Oval at the Bisini Grounds in Boroko. AFL Gold Coast Suns captain Gary Ablett Jnr will be joined by former NBL basketball star Jason Smith. Running this morning 9AM to noon, locals are invited to learn to kick, mark & take a spekky from the best AFL player of our time.
In Lae, the second largest city in PNG and capital of Morobe Province, the action takes place at Eriku Oval today (Saturday 10th October).
After the trauma and tragedy of Cyclone Pam earlier this year - for AFL Vanuatu the footy has helped provide a focus to return to normality. The season reaches its conclusion this weekend and that in itself is a victory given the starting point. Along with the AFL Vanuatu decider - this week has also seen AFL Vanuatu again playing host to a contingent from Adelaide's Concordia College.
Hawthorn today had some good news for New Zealander and International Rookie Kurt Heatherley. The news came along with some not so good news for Sam Grimley, Alex Woodward and James Hardisty who were all delisted (the club says they will look to redraft Woodward if not taken by another club).
But the news for Heatherley was good with the club announcing he has been upgraded to the senior list for the 2016 season. Heatherley was discovered as an elite multi-sport junior in NZ (where he also represented NZ in junior footy) and signed to an International Scholarship by Hawthorn. After relocating to Melbourne for school he has played school footy, TAC Cup and for the past two years with Box Hill Hawks in the VFL. All this while being taught the game at Hawthorn who have decided he is now ready to graduate to the big time.
At the Coburg Football Club VFL Grand Final Breakfast this morning we had the chance to ask Box Hill Hawks coach Marco Bello about his thoughts on the development of the two New Zealanders in his team and what part they might play in Sunday’s Grand Final against Williamstown.
“Shem (Tatupu), he’s come a long way. He played the first half of the season in the development league. He’s only been playing the game for four or five years. He was still learning the caper. It’s a new ball game for him, but his development not only this year but in the four years he has been trying out for us has been exponential.”