Contributed by: Ash Nugent Friday, April 18 2008 @ 10:00 pm ACST
The world’s smallest island nation, Nauru will field a full team at this year’s International Cup. Australian football is the most popular sport on the South Pacific island, and Nauruans are renowned for their passion for the game. Like many Aboriginal communities in Australia, it is not uncommon for children in Nauru to be named after well-known footballers. According to Mathew Batsiua, the country’s Minister for Sport and one of the people behind the effort to get Nauru to the International Cup, “There’s at least one Jesaulenko bearing that Christian name here and you’ll even find a local Akermanis in our community”. The Chiefs' were one of eleven sides at the inaugural International Cup in 2002, finishing eighth. They were a late withdrawal from the 2005 tournament, and doubt had been cast over their involvement this year.
Batsiua revealed that as of May, players will spend time in Melbourne with VCFL clubs “to help them achieve top match fitness ahead of the August event”. Our Airline[*1] , the new trading name from Air Nauru, has agreed to provide air travel for 22 players and three officials, and the AFL[*2] has allowed Nauru's team kit to feature Our Airline’s logo. In further positive news for Nauruan football, the AFL is apparently considering conducting coaching and umpiring clinics, and reestablishing a revamped national football competition on the island.