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PNG AFL star ‘Ace’ ready for first Grand Final with Gold Coast Suns

Updated: May 1

PNG AFL and Gordons Kokofas' pride Hewago Paul Oea nicknamed “Ace” will be flying Papua New Guinea’s flag on Sunday 24th September as he and his team, Gold Coast Suns take on Werribee in their first grand final appearance in the 2023 Smithy’s VFL Grand Final on Sunday in Ikon Park, Australia.

‘Ace’ is PNG AFL pride as the first local Papua New Guinean to be playing professionally with the Australian Football League on an international stage. He is from Gulf and Central Province and is the youngest of seven children.

His introduction to Australian rules was made possible through Niukick in Port Moresby at the age of 12 in which Paradise Foods Limited was the proud sponsor of the program.

Reminiscing on his journey with AFL, the 21-year-old lad says that this is a noteworthy moment for him.

"When I first got here, it was a little bit challenging at times but you won’t learn everything quickly you have to go step by step,” Ace said.

“For me, especially coming from PNG to this different environment and lifestyle. When I stepped in the first day at the Gold Coast Suns, the boys were welcoming, helping me with my footy and outside life as well”

“Also, when we went for training and stuff, the coaches and staff were super welcoming"

“In the end, I think all the hard work has paid off and I am rewarded to play the grand final this weekend," he said.

This would be the first grand final for the Gold Coast Suns since its establishment in 2009.

“For the club, it’s pretty special because we never played an AFL final before and everyone at the club and the players are looking forward to this weekend. Everyone is excited,” he said.

Ace gave a shout-out to his local club, Gordons Kokofas, who would also be playing their finals this weekend at Colts Oval, Boroko, Port Moresby.

Kokofas will be playing against University Piggies at 11 a.m. and then Gereka Bombers at 2 p.m. on Saturday 23rd in the Major Semi Finals for the Moni Plus POM AFL 2023 Premiership Cup.

Photo Credit: Hetahou Photography

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