Shot in the arm

FIJI will soon get another international promotion through sports next week, thanks to Australian Football League (AFL) Fiji.

AFL FIji is sending a national men and women’s team to the AFL International Cup (IC17) in Melbourne, Australia next week.

It is the code’s world cup and because it is Australia’s No.1 sport, our national teams could be getting international television and media coverage which is expected to attract millions of viewers, says national coach Simon Highfield.

“There will be a huge promotion for the teams,” he said.

“It will be watched all across Australia and our teams are playing New Zealand, South Africa, Great Britain and Pakistan. If we qualify for the finals, we will meet Papua New Guinea, so media coverage will also be in these countries.

“It will be a boost for Fiji in terms of promotion and the possibility of some of our players getting contracted.”

The teams received a boost yesterday with Bank South Pacific handing over playing kits as part of their sponsorship.

“This is one of our minor sports which has been in need of corporate assistance, so BSP is proud to help, especially as some of the players are unemployed,” BSP head of Smart Business, Tupou Halofaki said.

“We want to help them perform well since this is their world cup and BSP is proud to help them promote Fiji in the sport and internationally.”

The 56-member touring party departs next Wednesday. The men’s matches are on August 6 versus France, New Zealand on August 9, South Africa on August 11, and Great Britain on August 15. The women play Canada on August 6, Great Britain on August 9 and Pakistan on the 13th.

“This is our world cup and we have not played any of our opponents, but we have our game plans and the Fijian flair to cause upsets,” Highfield said.

Background

The 2017 AFL International Cup (IC17) will be held in Melbourne, from August 5-19.

It will be the sixth international cup and will include both men’s and women’s competitions.

AFL head of community and international development Grant Williams said he expected the 2017 carnival to be the biggest yet.

“The popularity of Australian football overseas continues to grow with more players and fans taking up and supporting our game,” he said.

“We look forward to welcoming players from North America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific.”

The AFL International Cup is played every three years. No expatriate Australians are eligible to play.

Teams comprise solely of amateurs who must be nationals of the country they represent.

In 2014 there were 25 teams (18 men’s and seven women’s) representing 18 nations. Papua New Guinea won the men’s event, while Canada was victorious in the women’s.

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