A Cook Islands national representative for both women’s rugby sevens and women’s rugby league, Chantelle Schofield sure is one tough cookie who knows how to take the tackles.
But the 25-year-old fullback from Aitutaki was the victim of a hard fall this week when she was kicked from behind by a motorcyclist whilst on a jog in Ootu.
Schofield is recovering from operations for an ACL rupture and meniscal tear – injuries she received playing in Australia. She had only just received clearance from her physio to start moving on her knee again when she was knocked off her feet on Monday.
“I was jogging along Ootu runway when I felt this pain just above my back, so it was either a kick or someone had hit me as they were driving past on a motorbike.
“They had got me on my right side and I done my right knee where the surgery had happened. Because of that it jolted me off balance and twisted my knee in.”
The fall left her distraught and in agony. She was escorted to the hospital by others passing by.
Although she didn’t catch their faces Schofield says the alleged offenders were tandem riding along with a group of about four or five other motorists including two females. She says she heard them laugh as they sped away.
“I know that they didn’t try to hurt me deliberately in that way because I’m sure they wouldn’t have known that I had a bad knee and that I was trying to do rehab to fix it.
“I was more upset at the fact that they would do that to anyone and it makes our little island look really bad.”
Her father, Steve Schofield said: “This is straight out assault and that’s the way I see it. They can’t go around doing stupid things.
“One of the main offenders is from overseas and he’s been trouble since he arrived.”
Aitutaki police made two arrests yesterday in relation to the alleged assault. Both offenders of Aitutaki descent, aged 16-years-old were on holiday from New Zealand. They appeared in court that afternoon but were released on bailed with special conditions.
They did not enter a plea and will be required to appear again on Thursday, January 16.
There was anger in Aitutaki at perceived delays in police taking action – but the concerns were rejected by the Police Service.
Police Commissioner Maara Tetava said: “I am indeed appalled by this incident. This kind of behaviour will not be tolerated in our country. Our sympathy goes towards the victim and her family and pray that she will recover from her injuries soon.
“Our team in Aitutaki did an outstanding job in apprehending and prosecuting the offenders quickly. We are not looking for anyone else in relation to this case. We are grateful to those people who assisted by providing information to our police officers.”
For Schofield, who hoped to get back on the training field, she is now back in recovery again for another 3-4 weeks which has affected her ability to train as well as work. The incident has caused her family much distress.
She just wants an apology and some help. “Because they’ve injured my knee so bad, just to come and help me around my properties to help me rake the beach, the rocks, clean up the coconut trees – just to help me to do what they’ve done.”