Contributed by: Brett Northey Tuesday, May 03 2005 @ 01:23 am ACST
AFL Papua New Guinea's recent success at Under 16 level in the Australia Post Queensland Country Championships follows on from a good showing for their Under 18s in selection trial matches in February.
Cairns dominated the final squad, the Kookaburras, selected to represent Country in the Australia Post State Development Championships in Brisbane in March, against five South East Queensland-based sides - 3 from Brisbane and one each from the Gold and Sunshine Coasts. This region, along with Sydney, is the fastest growing in Australia, and is the fastest growing Aussie Rules area in the country. The three Papuan boys selected were: Joe Ila, David Evetius and Morris Aka. With the huge numbers of kids now playing footy in Papua New Guinea, hopefully the next few years will see PNG dominate the Country Kookaburras squad, but that would not be fair to the aspiring young Queenslanders, so perhaps one day PNG will enter its own squads directly into the state championships - but that is still a fair way off. This year the Country Kookas didn't fair too well at the state champs, although two players were selected into the Queensland Under 18 Scorpions - but alas, no PNG players as yet. Interestingly four players were drafted into the AFL from the Scorpions team at the last draft, so the clear next step for AFL PNG, at the elite level, is to have a player make that side.
Let's hope we see the three young PNG men continue to develop. No one knows who it will be, but the first PNG AFL draftee must be getting closer. He's probably playing now, somewhere in PNG, perhaps 12 years old, perhaps even 16 or 17, and he's probably dreaming of AFL stardom already, just like all the Aussie kids that grow up loving the game.