The Cook Islands Under-21 Black Pearls national squad’s qualification this week for the World Youth Cup next year has added fuel to the fire of netball development.
The engine was ignited with new drive 13 weeks ago with the launch of the inaugural Rising Stars Netball Championships tournament, which came to a scorching end at the events grand finals.
All six village netball clubs on Rarotonga took part in the U21 and U17 age grade tournament created by husband and wife team Teina and Jackie Rongo of local company Rongohiva, to revitalise netball development in the Cook Islands.
The aim – to once again see the Cook Islands be crowned the Queens of Pacific netball, a title the Cooks held many years ago.
Judging by the impressive talent-filled performances of local rising netball stars over the past 13 weeks and this week’s national U21 squads’ success in qualifying for the World Youth Cup – it’s safe to say the future of netball in the Cook Islands is bright.
Rising stars from the Arorangi Flames proved to be the best and brightest with the club clean sweeping the Championships taking out top honours in both the U17 and U21 division.
A scorching late season comeback by the baby U17 Flames saw them square off against the highly talented Tupapa Panthers U17 team with the Flames showing great composure and drive to 57-54 in the nail-biting final.
The baby Flames paved the way for their strong U21 squad who faced the brave Avatiu Dragonflies squad.
The game went goal-for-goal and went right down to the wire keeping supporters from both camps on the edge of their seats.
A final surge of willpower by the Flames saw them burn over the Dragonflies to clinch the hair-raising grand finals 53-48 to lift the crown of the first title holders of the Rising Stars Netball Championships.
Major sponsors Bank of the Cook Islands and Bluesky Cook Islands, were commended for their commitment to community sports development with their sponsorship allowing organisers to set a stage for youth netballers to display their home grown netball skills.
- Mana Media