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Press Release: AFL PNG Gulf delivers the first Queensland State Rep

  • Sunday, May 21 2006 @ 12:48 am ACST
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Further to our recent stories on the success of Papua New Guniea's star youngsters at the Queensland U16 Country Championships and Queensland State U16 Championships, AFL PNG have issued a press release detailing their very encouraging results being achieved at junior and senior level in Australian Football. We don't normally publish entire press releases verbatim, but this excellent report from Scott Reid deserves a full read.

Highlights include Stanis Susuve's selection for the Queensland Scorpions, the DeLaSalle Scholarship and a summary of the seven Papuans now playing senior footy in the Sunshine state's leagues. AFL Queensland Talent Manager Mark Browning suggests higher honours await several of the under 16s players and AFL PNG CEO Andrew Cadzow believes PNG is now recognised as the emerging top talent zone outside of Australia, including Ireland.

The ramifications for the world growth of Australian Football are not yet clear. The rapidly accelerating strength of PNG may discourage other countries and if AFL clubs focus more on PNG than other nations may feel neglected. However, as Papuans make their way into the Aussie football system there will be wider recognition of the game's international potential, and this may well see increased support. Time will tell but for supporters of footy spreading beyond Australia's shores it is certainly heartening to see impressive results starting to flow. And when a few "home grown" Papuans do make the big time, footy will take off in Australia's northern neighbour.

AFL Gulf delivers the first Queensland State Rep

AFL PNG together with AFL Queensland is proud to announce that Stanis Susuve has been selected into the Queensland State Under 16 Squad to play at the AFL Australian National Championships in Brisbane in July this year.

Susuve, born in Kerema and a product of AFL Gulf, was enjoying the benefits of an Elite Scholarship with AFL PNG’s School of Excellence, DeLaSalle College, Bomana this year, but now has his focus on final selection in the Queensland U16 Scorpions team to take on the other States at the Australian Championships in July.

Susuve had been outstanding in the Educo Raitman NCD Schools Competition in 2005 which saw him win the Elite Scholarship placement at DeLaSalle along with other boys from Gulf, Hagen and for the first time this year a player from Kimbe. Susuve’s DeLaSalle Scholarship place will now be taken by teammate Elave Sapea, another Gulf boy who excelled with the Binatangs & Kookaburras in Australia this month.

As a member of the 2006 U16 JDA Wokman Binatangs Stanis travelled to Cairns for the Queensland Country Championships on 22-25 April 2006, which PNG marched through undefeated. After beating Cairns in the QCC Final pretty easily the JDA Wokman Binatangs celebrated and then most of the boys headed home, but Stanis stayed on in Australia with Captain Ogla Pena, the dynamic Johnson Meli and fellow Gulf wantok Elave Sapea.

Selection in the Country Kookaburras was a great achievement for the 4 PNG boys, and they were determined to do well with their rural teammates. Excited Australian footy fans saw the PNG boys leading from the front not only in the games but also in the Kookaburra’s, Binatang inspired, Speardance War Cry, called the OleOle, which the Country Kookaburras adopted and performed before each game and afterwards too, if they won the day.

The Kookaburras, on a roll, entered the Final of the U16 Queensland State Championships undefeated in their Pool, meeting the reigning Champions, the Northern Raiders. Unfortunately it was one task too many for the Kookas, but in a hard fought match it was only the Raiders straight kicking that won the day. The 4 PNG boys were instrumental in the success of the 2006 U16 Kookaburras, and it was fantastic to be advised today that Stanis Susuve was one of 23 boys named in the Queensland Under 16 Scorpions.

The Gulf gun will now barely have time to say hi to Mum & Dad, do his washing and repack his bag to travel back to Brisbane to start Queensland State training as soon as possible. With the titles in July, AFL Queensland Talent Manager, and ex Sydney Swan Mark Browning is excited about the addition of PNG to the AFLQ Pathway and particularly about the athletic talent he has seen in the PNG boys this year.

"It is clear the AFL PNG development programs are really starting to work now. In past years Binatang Teams have had a few good players, but this time Kookaburra Selectors could have picked 10-12 PNG Binatangs who would have been worthy Kookaburra selections. The players are all that bit taller and stronger and have a growing understanding of the game.

The raw talent I saw in the 4 players who played Kookaburras this year is really exciting and I know the Brisbane Lions and the other AFL Clubs will be watching Stanis Susuve’s progress closely in this year’s Under 16 National Carnival.

I certainly expect that Stanis or future PNG players will join other Queensland boys to make the All Australian Selection team for the International Series against Ireland. This year 4 Queensland boys took on the Irish and it is very likely those boys will feature in the 2007 AFL National Draft. There’s no reason that the PNG boys, with their natural athletic talent and flare, cannot go all the way.

My job is about identifying talent for the AFL and delivering opportunities for boys to get there. I’m really pleased that boys from PNG are working their way up the Pathway, now led by Stanis Susuve. I wouldn’t expect to be seeing Stanis coming home very soon. His football career is just beginning."

AFL PNG CEO Andrew Cadzow was gratified with Susuve’s selection, but also with the continued improvement in the quality of the teams coming out of PNG. He commented on the success of AFL PNG development programs:

The success of the AFL PNG programs in centres outside Port Moresby is the real story with Susuve’s selection. Programs that have been running in Lae, Hagen and Gulf for 2-3 years are now starting to see high quality players pushing into the National team.

Where 2-3 years ago the JDA Wokman Binatangs were dominated by Moresby based boys that is changing. With Kimbe now joining in strongly, the Selection Pathway of Provincial, Regional and National Championships is a true national search for the most talented players. With the opportunities now opening for PNG boys to win Elite Scholarships in Port Moresby and across Australia the unique Oil Search Pathway that AFL PNG has developed is really starting to bear fruit.

AFL PNG has 3 players with Manunda Hawks in Cairns, 2 with Coolangatta in the Second Division of the State League and two with Redlands in Queensland’s highest level AFL competition, the State League. All 7 players are playing regularly in the Seniors at their Clubs even though all are just 18 or younger.

The relationship AFL PNG is building with these Clubs will certainly see opportunities continue at these Clubs for PNG players in future, and the success of the boys and selections at higher levels like that of Susuve today is seeing growing interest in PNG talent across football circles, both in Queensland and beyond.

I think it is fair to say that PNG is now accepted by those on the inside of AFL circles as a better AFL talent pool than anywhere else in the World, Ireland included. It is just a matter of time before the first PNG home grown player gets drafted. With more than 600 players on AFL lists these are exciting opportunities opening up for PNG kids.

Stanis has made a breakthrough for us today. Maybe he can go one better and impress at this next level, but importantly we have identified him at age 16, giving us time to groom and foster his natural ability so he can be ready for the Under 18 Championships in 2008, when he will be eligible for the AFL Draft.

AFL PNG prides itself on running a fully rounded Development Program. It is much more than just junior competition. The programs AFL PNG have designed and that they now operate across PNG, in particular Pikinini Pilai Rules & PJV Raitman, teach PNG boys the skills necessary to play AFL football, they instil the disciplines necessary to succeed in the AFL and the programs emphasise the commitment needed to succeed at the next level up the Pathway.

Stanis Susuve has done incredibly well to get selected today in the Queensland Under 16 State Team, but the fact is that AFL PNG now has the systems in place to ensure that while Stanis might be the first through he will be far from the last PNG boy to wear a Queensland Scorpion jumper.