The AFL Flying Boomerangs will touch down in New Zealand for a series of matches against the U-16 New Zealand Hawks in December.
The tour promises to bring exciting, high level AFL to Wellington, with both matches scheduled to take place at Hutt Park.
Made up of talented indigenous AFL footballers, the AFL Flying Boomerangs play a dynamic and skilled brand of AFL. The series is shaping up as a clash of styles, with New Zealand Hawks teams known for being uncompromising, dedicated and tough.
Game 1) U-16 New Zealand Hawks vs AFL Flying Boomerangs, Hutt Park, 2.00pm
Game 2) U-16 New Zealand Hawks vs AFL Flying Boomerangs, Hutt Park, 12.00pm
The series was made possible with the support of the Australian High Commission, who will help bring New Zealand Hawks players to Wellington. The Australian High Commission is focused on improving promotion and recognition of the contribution of Indigenous culture in the sporting arena. The two matches will showcase Indigenous talent from both sides of the Tasman.
The U-16 New Zealand Hawks have been selected from the Under-16 National Championships, held in Wellington in March 2013. The top U-16 AFL players from around the country competed at this tournament, with the very best being selected to represent New Zealand.
Mick Coultard, the National High Performance Manager for AFL New Zealand, will coach the Hawks. He is anticipating strong performances from the players currently in the AFL New Zealand High Performance system.
“There are some very talented young footballers in this team, and they have been working very hard in the lead up to this series.”
Two players to watch from the U-16 New Zealand Hawks will be Siope Ngata, a current holder of an AFL International Scholarship with the Hawthorn Hawks, and James Little, a current North Harbour age grade representative in rugby.
The main competition the AFL Flying Boomerangs compete in is the NAB Australian National Under 16 Championships. Various New Zealand representatives have played against the AFL Flying Boomerangs in that competition, either as part of the South Pacific Invitational XVIII, or a World Invitational XVIII.
The AFL Flying Boomerangs also play tour matches against developing AFL nations, with recent tours including series against South Africa, Papau New Guinea, Fiji and Tonga. This tour will be their first visit to New Zealand.
Xavier Clarke, a former professional AFL player, is the AFL Indigenous Programme Manager. Clarke traces his heritage to the Gambalang people of Northern Territory. He played more than 105 games for the St Kilda Saints, and represented the Indigenous All-Stars in 2007. The AFL Flying Boomerangs will be coached by Eugene Warrior.
The mission of the AFL Flying Boomerangs includes personal development and leadership programmes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, supported by the AFL Indigenous Program. The team is selected by the AFL’s Chris Johnson from the 2013 National KickStart Under-15 Championships held in Townsville. The selection criterion includes both football talent and leadership skills.