Sunday, April 4, 2010
PNG recruits to help Blues
By NICK SMART
THEY play for the Coolangatta Blues in the Townsville but it looks more like the Papua New Guinea Aussie rules national team.
Fresh off a wooden spoon last year, new Blues President Scott Reid, who is also the president of AFL-PNG, has secured the services of 10 players from PNG to boost the club.
John Vogae, Ogla Pena, Freddie Peni, Emmanuel Tupia, Junior John Ikupu, Ferdinand Musi, Ali Pinda, Paul Phillip, Gagu Kaiyage and Junior Henry will all play for the Blues this season.
AFL PNG, which has been funded by the AFL for almost 10 years, has had players in Queensland on scholarship as part of its Coca Cola Talent Program for several years.
Coolangatta is a partner club and more than happy to accommodate the players, who range from the age of 17 to 24, from PNG for 2010.
"They bring a lot of run and fitness and with their attitude they are great to have around because they enjoy their footy," said Reid.
Reid said the boys have already fit right in down at Len Peak Oval.
"One of the things we are a little bit conscious of is we are bringing so many in to Coolangatta and you can sometimes set up a bit of a divide if the PNG boys stick to themselves," he said.
"But Coolangatta has a lot of new players and they are mixing really well with the PNG boys."
"Good luck to the PNG lads, there's a very strong contingent now of PNG Aust Footballers in Australia ... and they aren't just making up the numbers. Nor are the international rookies/scholarships token gestures.
There are many very capable young players that lends hope that within perhaps just 10 years there could be a pretty competitive PNG national rep team including past, present and future AFL stars," said Michael C.