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TOPIC: PNG footballers to play big role in new NEAFL side

PNG footballers to play big role in new NEAFL side 5 years 1 day ago #22877

  • MikeXU1
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PNG footballers to play big role in new NEAFL side
Via ABC - Updated Tue Jul 16, 2013 11:24am AEST

Football players from Papua New Guinea are expected to play a big part in a new side in the North East Australian Football League.

Nine PNG players, aged 18 to 23, are currently on scholarships playing in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, the Riverina and Ballarat.

There are plans to establish a side in the NEAFL in either Cairns or Townsville as early as next year.

Murray Bird, AFL PNG general manager, has told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat it is hoped PNG players would form the nucleus of the new side.

"We could have 20 boys on scholarships in Cairns or Townsville next year between the ages of 17 and 23 that are all either aspiring or capable of playing in the AFL competition," Mr Bird said.

Mr Bird says he is very confident of the ability of PNG players after their success in the under-14 side in Queensland.

"The boys played in the Queensland state academy championships on the Gold Coast and they won the grand final by nine or ten goals...they did exceptionally well," Mr Bird said.

"In the past, we've had probably eight to ten boys that have played at state league level...there's plenty of talent here.

"Some have gone to the next level and got what's called an international scholarship where they actually train full-time with an AFL club," he said.

Mr Bird says Australian rules football is a fantastic option for kids in PNG, though locals love their rugby.

"It's free-flowing and much less structured than rugby league and the kids that play it certainly enjoy it," he said.

"Our staff write to local level government, write to the schools, seek permission to go and do clinics, generate an interest for primary school competitions through the clinics.

"Part of the AFL's motivation is talent identification and also spreading the word and spreading the great game of Australian football outside of Australia, Mr Bird said.

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