Australian football’s international ties remain strong with budding South Pacific Nations men’s and women’s players taking on the Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast SUNS Academies in Queensland, as part of their U19 South Pacific High-Performance Pathway Talent Campts this month.
After a three-year hiatus, the South Pacific Nations men’s team arrives in Australia this week where players will have the opportunity to watch the Brisbane Lions host Geelong in a practice match on Thursday at Brighton Homes Arena, before getting stuck into camp.
AFL International Development Manager, Ben Drew, said the camps were a fantastic opportunity for the AFL to work closely with its international affiliates.
“There are some extremely talented players coming over from Nauru, Fiji, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea and these camps are a great opportunity for them to see what it’s like playing Australian Rules right here in Queensland,” Drew said.
“The camp will focus on player development along with coach and umpire education, as part of a commitment to having a quality pathway for those participating internationally, whether that’s as a player, coach or game official.
“We are working hard to have dedicated umpires in each country. It’s a process and we are educating and empowering the local players and volunteers so they can go back home and help build the quality of the competition as a game official.
“This year we’re fortunate to have our AFL South Pacific Pathway Ambassadors Hewago Oea from the Gold Coast SUNS, Zimmorlie Farquharson from the Brisbane Lions AFLW and Victorian Football League umpire Sam Whetton work closely with our international teams throughout each camp.”
The AFL South Pacific High-Performance Pathway is proudly supported by the Australian Government’s PacificAus Sports program, supporting the development of in-country talent academies and the pathway they provide to Australia.
“We have many programs ongoing across our South Pacific affiliates with four of them receiving funding through Australian Government programs PacificAus Sports and Team Up,” Drew said.
“The AFL South Pacific region work closely with AFL Queensland, the Gold Coast SUNS and Brisbane Lions Academies in creating a high-performance pathway for players, umpire and coaches who want to take their footy knowledge to the next level, and play right here in Australia,” Drew said.
“We’re grateful to have the support of AFL Queensland and both Brisbane and Gold Coast’s Talent Academies and look forward to seeing our top international talent take on the best in the state.”
This year is also the first time the Talent Camp is on offer to female players from the South Pacific, with the women’s squad arriving next week. They will also take player and umpire training, injury management sessions and matches against the Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast Suns Academies.
- Friday, 3 March: 5pm v Gold Coast SUNS Academy @ Heritage Bank Stadium
- Sunday, 5 March: 12pm v Brisbane Lions Academy @ Springfield
- Friday, 10 March: 5pm v Gold Coast Suns Academy @ Heritage Bank Stadium
- Sunday, 12 March: 10am v Brisbane Lions Academy @ Springfield