As part of the lead up to their bigger mission in Townsville, the Papua New Guinea team has accepted the challenge of playing a combined U16/U18 team from Pyramid Power Junior AFL club in Gordonvale, 25 kilometres south of Cairns.
Pyramid Power is one of the newest clubs in the AFL Cairns Juniors, but has already been active in the world of international Australian Rules football. Their “Brother Club” project has seen them interact with clubs overseas, so this opportunity is an extension of their international dealings.
The game will be played at Power Park, the home ground of Pyramid Power. This will be the first time an international match from any football code will have been played in the sugar town of Gordonvale.
To mark the event, the local community plans to provide entertainment and a barbecue for the visiting Binatangs squad, as well as holding another International Day where kids can have a kick in donated footy jumpers from clubs all over the world.
Ben Drew, the AFL Development Officer for the Pacific region, worked closely with AFL Cairns Juniors and Pyramid Power to ensure the opportunity for the PNG Binatangs came to fruition.
Sean Hunter, the Acting Operations manager for AFL Cairns, sees this game as a “great initiative”. PNG Binatangs coach, Murray Bird, is also upbeat about the opportunity, saying that the players “are looking forward to coming to Gordonvale [and] would really appreciate it”.
Pyramid Power president, Brett Kennerley, sees this as a “unique event” and a ‘huge opportunity” for the teams and AFL Cairns.
Whilst there are no immediate plans for a follow up event, this “friendly” between the Papua New Guinea team and a Cairns based club could pave the way for a more permanent connection between the two locations. It may also be a step towards Cairns becoming a focal point for all visiting countries from the Oceania/Pacific region.
After this match, the PNG Binatangs will hop back on the bus and travel south to Townsville to compete in the South Pacific Cup in conjunction with the U15 Kickstart Championships from Monday 8th to Friday 12th April.
The PNG Binatangs v Pyramid Power match will be on Sunday 7th April at 10.00am. Both teams welcome anyone who will be in Cairns that day and want to come and see the awesome talent on display.