Papua New Guinea national Australian rules football team
|Union||PNG Rules Football Council|
|Papua New Guinea 100 – 18 New Zealand
The Papua New Guinea national Australian rules football team (nicknamed the "Mosquitos" and for sponsorship purposes, the Telikom PNG Mosquitos) represents Papua New Guinea in the team sport of Australian rules football.
The Mosquitos represent the best PNG born and bred male players from the clubs and teams of AFL PNG and is one of the nation's most successful sporting teams, currently ranked 2nd in the world behind Australia.
Beginning as a state representative team in 1973 (when it participated in the Teal Cup), it debuted internationally against Australia at Under 17 level in 1977. Papua New Guinea is the most decorated nation in international Australian Football, having won the equal most Australian Football International Cup titles (2 - 2008, 2014) and five medals including 3 silver medals (2002, 2005, 2011), as well as three gold medals at the Arafura Games.
In the early 1970s, Australian clubs began touring PNG to compete against selections of local players but it wasn't until 1973 that the national team first began to form.
1977 was a historic year for Papua New Guinean footy. The year saw the first ever international matches involving Australia at under 17 level between Australia and Papua New Guinea. The Australian Under 17 squad toured Papua New Guinea, and the PNG team reciprocated in Adelaide, with Australia dominating the game and taking the honours.
Subsequent decline in the sport in PNG and growth of the sport in Australia did not see the Mosquitos compete again until 1995, when Aussie Rules was first played at the Arafura Games in Darwin, Northern Territory. That year PNG won the gold medal of the International division defeating New Zealand. In the same competition, PNG also competed against sides from Nauru, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong.
In 1997, PNG successfully defended their Arafura Games title again defeating New Zealand.
In 1999 won the gold medal again at the games, once again defeating New Zealand in the final.
In 2000, the Mosquitoes were invited to play New Zealand in a curtain raiser to a pre-season AFL match in Wellington, but were unable to raise the funds required.
A minor setback to the representation of the Mosquitos was the cancellation of the 2003 Arafura Games due to SARS fears.
Prior to the 2005 International Cup, AFL legend Mal Michael offered to play for the PNG side, but was ruled ineligible by the AFL. Although he was born in PNG, he did not satisfy the criteria since he had moved to Australia at too young an age. Despite Michael not being involved in the side, he tipped PNG to win the competition, hailing the strong growth in the local competitions.
In the 2005 International Cup, PNG again went through the competition unbeaten only to lose the Grand Final to a much improved New Zealand national team. Papua New Guinea's best and fairest player (from the 2005 International Cup) is Navu Maha. Navu also won the award for the best player in the 2005 International Cup series and captained both the 2002 and 2005 teams.
In early 2008, the national team secured its first major sponsor – Telikom PNG – which helped to fund the junior squads competing in Australia and the senior squad's International Cup campaign.
In the 2008 International Cup, PNG, captained by Alister Sioni again went through the competition unbeaten, this time defeating New Zealand in a thriller. 2 points up at the final siren, 17-year-old Amua Pirika kicked a goal after the siren. Donald Barry was best on ground in the Grand Final. Overa Gibson was best and fairest in the 2008 International Cup. 4 Mosquitos were named in the All-International team – Donald Barry, Overa Gibson, Joe Lla and Stanis Susuve.
PNG's national junior team also competes Under 14, U16 and U18 levels in the Queensland Country Australian Football Championships and more recently, the Queensland State Australian Football Championships.