One man’s mission to bring football to Papua New Guinea

To start a movement, you need one man who makes it his mission.

In Papua New Guinea, which is located about 1,300 miles north of Brisbane, Australia, the movement is American football and that man is Timothy Jim.

Mr. Jim, a native of Western Highlands located in the interior of Papua New Guinea, whose football background consists of three years of playing football in the Philippines, returned to his home country with a passion to introduce the game there.  Living in Port Moresby on the southern coast of PNG, he couldn’t find anyone playing football, so he started up his own federation.

The PNG American Football FederationPNGAFF – was born on December 31, 2019, and has now grown to 30 playing members as well as a president, secretary, treasurer and two board members. The PNGAFF is a registered organization under the Investment Promotion Authority of Papau New Guinea and recognized by the Sports Foundation of Papua New Guinea.

In other words, Timothy Jim is a man on a mission.

“I was in the Philippines for study and while living there, I was invited by my Filipino friends to try out American Football. From there I learned this new sport and really came to love it.

His new passion for football shouldn’t seem too unusual given that Jim grew up playing rugby.

“It’s the tackling, running and hitting people aspect of football that attracted me o it. From a rugby background, hitting people and tackling is what we love to do.”

Once he had up the organization in motion, he started holding non-contact practices, teaching what he had learned to young men who had never played, or in some cases, even heard of the game. By putting up posters on social media like Facebook, Jim attracted more and more young athletes to his six-aside flag football practices.

“We now have about 30 people playing flag football and we are planning a flag football tournament towards the end of this year. Once our numbers grow and we get equipment, we can start playing 11 man football with pads.”

Sandlot football at its purest

This is the sandlot football many grew up playing. You played with what you had and wherever you could find a field.  Since decent fields are scarce in Por Moresby, Jim and his enthusiastic bunch are forced to use a field that otherwise would not be suitable. However, he says that for real games, the PNGAFF will rent proper turf fields.

“It’s difficult now in the beginning. We hold ‘ttryouts’ every weekend to teach anyone who comes along about the game. We have to look for fields and we only have a non-official footballs and cones to use. We need to raise money to buy equipment or get equipment donated.”

 

Timothy Jim (QB) running one of his weekly practices

Naturally, with a sport as new as American football is in Papau New Guinea, coaching is a priority. For now, Jim himself is the sole teacher and coach although he is yet to be accredited. That’s another one of his goals.

“I plan on taking some online coaching courses since there are no clinics I can attend close by. Once I can get certified we can get more people to start learning and then coaching.”

Like any fledgling sports organization, the PNGAFF is in need of equipment. Dire need of equipment.

“The only places we can get equipment including footballs, pads, helmets and tackling bags are Australia and the Philippines. And that’s expensive. We need to find another way.”

Although the coronavirus pandemic is obviously making things difficult for the PNGAFF at present, Jim is optimistic for later in the year and next year.

“We plan on holding drives to raise money to purchase the equipment we need for now or to get donations.

American football may be in its very infancy on this far-flung island in the South Pacific, but with someone as determined as Timothy Jim there is no question that it will begin to thrive.

 

 

 

Roger Kelly
Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.
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