St Paul’s Pumas pounce

By Harry Krebs

St Pauls Pumas pounce.

Last Saturday will remain in the minds of the St. Paul’s Pumas for a very long time, as they made their debut in the Brisbane South Junior Competition.

What makes the Puma’s story truly remarkable is that the majority of the players are not only new to AFL, but to the country as well.

The Pumas are made up of kids from Indigenous backgrounds, as well as migrants and refugees from Kenya, Sudan, Burundi, Uganda, Samoa, Papua New Guinea and Tonga.

St. Paul’s Pumas Coach Jon Sorohan says it wasn’t easy to get the St. Paul’s team on board the competition since they are a school team who wanted to play club competition.

During 2012 and 2013 St Paul’s School became more and more involved with the AFL Brisbane South Development and Multicultural Development teams,” Sorohan said.

Through this relationship, the NAB AFL Auskick Program came to the school, allowing the St. Paul’s team to really learn about footy and have some fun. Later on down the track the school entered teams in the Multicultural Cup competition, where the boys team finished first, and the girls finished second.

In 2013 word was getting around that the St. Paul’s boys really knew how to kick a footy, and five of the players proved this by representing the Logan district team. One of these boys was even selected to play in the state titles.

Sorohan knew his players could take on club competition.

“As we are only a small school we looked at the level of success of these young people and began to form an idea of a team to play in the Brisbane South Junior AFL competition,” he said.

Coach Sorohan took the idea to AFL Queensland and the Springwood Pumas AFL Club, where the St. Paul’s Pumas got the green light to play in the competition.

“We discussed the idea of an U11 team that would train at school but play under the structure of Springwood Pumas, having home games at Springwood,” Sorohan said.

“The Springwood Pumas AFL club have been incredibly supportive of the idea and have done everything possible to make this team happen,” Sorohan said.

The Springwood Pumas arranged for the St. Paul’s Pumas to be sponsored by Bendigo Bank, who secured 20 jerseys for the team.

“This team would not have been possible without all of the assistance and help we have received,” Sorohan said.

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