Jeconiah Peni, from the Moore University Tigers club in Port Moresby, has taken another huge step in his development as a footballer. Peni has been playing in Australia with Sydney-based club Campbelltown this year where his performances have earned him the right to show his wares at the AFL’s National Draft Combine.
Peni is following in the footsteps of Mt. Hagen’s Gideon Simon, who was picked up at last year’s combine by the Richmond club.
The draft combine puts selected players through a series of tests such as agility, endurance, skills and decision making.
From these tests, and their observations of players throughout the 2013 season, the 18 AFL clubs then make selections at the upcoming National Draft.
Peni will join other athletes from Ireland and the United States as international invitees to the prestigious event. The Internationals will be included with 94 of the best young talent from around Australia.
Peni can be pre-listed by any AFL club as an International Rookie (as Gideon Simon was in 2012).
AFLPNG General Manager, Murray Bird, said:
“Jeconiah’s selection to go to the AFL National Combine is another huge boost for our Coca-Cola Talent Pathway and our system of scholarships to Australian clubs. Jeconiah started the year with Moore University Tigers, and after obtaining his two-year sports visa in April, he hasn’t looked back. He has been a consistent performer as an 18 year old in the highly regarded Sydney Football League. He was also a stand out player when he represented South Pacific Under 18s against an open age New Zealand squad in Wellington earlier this year.”
Fellow Moore University Tiger, John James, has also had a great 2013, playing in the NEAFL league grand final for Aspley when they went down to the strong Brisbane Lions reserve grade team a few weeks back.
Bird believes there will be many more to follow the likes of Peni, James and Simon.
“We are expanding the Coca-Cola Academy to over 200 players in 2014. What we have seen at recent selection trials in Port Moresby, Lae and Bialla has been very encouraging. There were nine boys on scholarships to Australia this year and we expect that to grow significantly in 2014. The achievements of Jeconiah Peni are an inspiration to all our players here in PNG. I am sure he can deliver the work ethic and commitment that is required for him to take the next step. He has a great attitude and keeps himself super-fit.