The John Glassie-coached side left Auckland for Botswana yesterday with the hope of retaining their spot from the last Youth World Cup.
The Baby Black Pearls finished sixth at the 2009 tournament, but missed the last event in Glasgow four years ago.
Cook Islands overcame a tough tussle in the Pacific Tri Series last year, where the side finished second, in order to make the World Cup.
In an interview with Radio New Zealand, Glassie said finances have been the biggest challenge to their preparations, with the playing squad spread across the Cook Islands, New Zealand and Australia.
“It’s quite rare for us to be able to get together regularly so when we do we certainly value that time and we put a lot of training in during that time that we are together for the couple of days,” he said.
“We were together about a month ago – before that it was a couple of months so we’ve only been together a couple of times since (finishing second, behind Fiji, at the) Oceania (Championships, which ended in October).”
The depth in the team is pleasing with five members of the U21 squad recently named in the Cook Islands senior squad to compete at the Nations Cup in Singapore in December.
Glassie is confident his squad will prove competitive on the global stage.
“For us, to get an opportunity to compete is fantastic – especially for the Pacific nations because we do have the cost and that sort of thing is quite high because we have to travel every time we want to play any international game,” he said.
“We are hoping to finish in the top ten at this tournament – that’s our goal – so if we can get top two (in the pool) we’ve achieved that goal and anything higher is a bonus.”
The team will have a couple of days preparation in Botswana where Glassie is keen to work on some tactics ahead of their opening match.
“We’ve also lined up a game with Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe and New Zealand so we’ll have those games prior to the tournament and that will give a wide range of different skills that other teams have to play against and try and adjust our game play.”
The Cook Islands is grouped in Pool C alongside Jamaica, Malaysia, Uganda and hosts Botswana.
Fiji and Samoa are also competing at the Netball World Youth Cup 2017 which will be held from July 8 to 16.
- RNZ/Rashneel Kumar
Cook Islands U21: Alex Iro (Auckland) – Titikaveka, Ashley (Cope) Dixon (Auckland) – Takuvaine, Celeste Patutama (Auckland) – Arorangi, Chantal Tikitau (Cairns) – Titikaveka, Daimzel Rongokea (Rarotonga) – Arorangi, Hinemoa Mehau (Perth) – Arorangi, Maria Milani (Auckland) – Aitutaki, Mary Tuaana (Brisbane) – Arorangi, Moana Glassie (Brisbane) – Aitutaki, Nina-Tai Roberts (Auckland) - Aitutaki/Mangaia, Rochelle Teiri (Auckland) – Arorangi, Tetania Oaariki (Auckland) – Arorangi.