Created by passionate sportsman Teina Rongo as a platform for grassroots development and increased community participation, the championship, which starts today, is set to showcase the best of locally-grown netball talent.
In her address, Oceania Netball Federation president Tina Browne touched on how netball is greater than just a game.
“Netball is more than a game – we eat netball and we sleep netball: it’s our life,” says Browne.
“I’ve made so many lifelong friends through netball and I know you will have these same experiences,” she commented to the rising stars of netball.”
Browne also acknowledged the timeliness of the new tournament in reinvigorating netball development, as this year also marks 50 years of netball success in the Pacific region.
Sharing words of encouragement to the under-17 and U21 village club netball players, major sponsor Bank of the Cook Islands (BCI) managing director Vaine Nooana-Arioka spoke about the power of belief.
“Belief in a thing makes it happen,” Nooana-Arioka said.
She echoed earlier sentiments about the sport of netball being more than just a game, saying that hard work and team effort were ingredients for success on the netball courts and in life.
Speaking on behalf of her husband and tournament adviser Teina Rongo, who was on a work trip to the outer islands, Jackie Rongo expressed the overwhelming support received for the Rising Stars Netball Championship from across the island.
She encouraged the junior netters to play hard and make the most of the opportunities that the championships will bring.
She also thanked major sponsor Bank of the Cook Islands (BCI), telecommunications company Bluesky along with newly signed sponsor Raro Xpo for their generous contributions and support.
Minister of Sports Albert Nicholas likened the new tournament to a new baby, saying that with the necessary support the baby would become a product of pride for the whole community.
Speaking in Maori to honour the 50th year celebrations of the Ui Ariki, Nicholas encouraged the rising stars, “te au etu e rere mai nei,” to shine bright in their endeavours and paid homage to former netball stars “te au etu kua opu atu,” who continue to give back to the sport of netball.
He honoured Teina and Jackie Rongo for creating the tournament for youth development and wished their organising team and all six netball clubs on the island vying for the championship title a successful 13 weeks of netball excitement.
The presence of Cook Islands Rugby Union president Moana Moeka’a was also acknowledged at the opening ceremony as the new netball tournament will follow the rugby union draw and be played at village netball courts in an effort to bring more of the community together.
The first round of the championships shoots into action this Saturday afternoon from 1pm.
The Titikaveka Pearls will take on the Arorangi Flames at Titikaveka, Takuvaine Red Angels meet Tupapa Panthers at the Happy Valley courts and the Avatiu Dragonflies will host the Ngatangiia Tradewinds at the Swamp.
So get your club colours on and show your support for your village junior netball teams.
- Mana Media