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AFL team Tonga bound

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The Under-18 AFL team with RAMSI Special Co-ordinator, Graeme Wilson.
AFTER six years of playing the Australian Football League (AFL) in Honiara, 24 youths are given the lifeline to represent Solomon Islands at an Under 18 tournament in Tonga this month.

The team consists mostly of unemployed youths at one of the settlements in the City plus some High School students.

Over the past six years, RAMSI volunteers have provided a weekly opportunity for young Solomon Islanders, mainly from settlement areas in Honiara, to learn the skills of AFL and have some fun through Auskick.

Earlier this year, one boy, Freddie Una, was given the chance to go to Australia to play in the South Pacific Nations Team and this has helped change his life.

Now, there is the chance to take the first ever Solomon Islands team to an Under 18  tournament in Tonga from 14-18 December.

The trip was made possible through the help of Solomon Islands AFL Federation.

The boys will come up against the might of New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Fiji, Nauru, Tonga, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and an Australian Aboriginal team.

Team Captain, Freddie Una said the boys are looking forward for the tournament.

"We did well in training and I think the boys are prepared for it," he said.

Graeme Wilson, Secretary of the Solomon Islands AFL Federation, said AFL talent scouts will be out in force to check out the exciting talent in the region.

"This tour will be first for the boys so we hope to help them live their dream and represent their country proudly," he said.

On Saturday night, Solomon Islands AFL Federation hosted a dinner at Honiara Hotel to help raise funds to support the team.

Mr Wilson said the team wanted to raise about $120,000 to meet travelling costs from Honiara to Nukualofa.

He said with 240 guests attended the dinner on the night, they hoped to raise such amounts.

Prime Minister Danny Philip was among guests from other stakeholders and business houses who attended the dinner.

Star Sports is still to get the actual amount of money raised on the night