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Papua's Parika: from Moresby to MCG

Richard Jones

Parika_Amua The Australian Football League's newest franchise on the Gold Coast has signed star Papua New Guinea player 17-year-old Amua Parika from Port Moresby. Parika started training this week in preparation for the 2009 TAC Cup under-18 competition.

Parika was spotted by seasoned AFL scouts when he spearheaded the PNG Mosquitoes to victory over New Zealand in last year's International Cup grand final. The International Cup is contested by 16 nations in which Australian Rules is a developing sport.

It has been a meteoric rise for the 190 cm Parika. From Moresby to the MCG, no less.

Former Melbourne AFL club captain Gary Lyon praised Parika in various segments of the Footy Classified show televised on Channel 9. And Gold Coast recruiting chief Scott Clayton said there was "plenty to like” about the athletic Papuan. "He can jump and he looks like he's going to be a reasonable size. It's now up to us to develop him. We're excited about Amua," said Clayton.

The promising young forward has something of a footy pedigree. His uncle, Navu Maha, had a run with the old South Melbourne team (the club on which the Sydney Swans is based) while his father, Amua senior, was a star with the Port Moresby Mosquitoes. Tragically, Amua senior was stabbed to death in a village fight in 1995.

The Gold Coast's newest signing says Hawthorn 100-goal full-forward Lance Franklin is his idol.

The bond between Papua New Guinea and the Gold Coast stretches back to the 1970s. From the early 70s a series of Aussie Rules 'internationals' were staged. In more recent times a number of PNG teenagers have played for Coolangatta in the AFL Queensland second division competition and two of them – John James and Donald Barry - are currently with Division One club, Aspley.


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