Anania Piri, Marei Nicholas, Tia Henderson, Simone Nicholas and Daimzel Rongokea will participate in the inaugural Pacific Nations Netball Academy to be held in Auckland for the next six months.
The scholarship is a partnership between Netball Cook Islands and the High Wire Charitable Trust (HWCT), and will create new opportunities for the girls.
Netball Cook Islands president Mii Maui said the netball community was eagerly waiting to check the girls’ progress when they returned to Rarotonga next year.
“The girls will not only come back as better netballers but will also go through a personal development journey while they are away.
“Living in a house together with the five girls from Samoa will be an adjustment as well as learning about cooking, balancing training regimes and their work schedule. Being away from the comfort of friends and family here will also take a bit of time to adjust to but it is another part of their personal growth.”
The academy aims not only to provide specialist netball coaching and fitness training, but also to empower young women with life skills, leadership abilities and academic knowledge.
When the girls return to the Cook Islands at the conclusion of the programme they will have both a Work Place First Aid course and New Zealand Certificate in Sports and Recreation, both of which are internationally recognised qualifications.
They will also enjoy the chance to take part in activities like abseiling, rock climbing and bungee jumping, which will be not only fun but also help with team building
Daimzel Rongokea said yesterday morning she was equal parts nervous and excited about the challenge that lay ahead.
“It is a really awesome opportunity to be given and no doubt we will all make the most of what we can learn while we are in New Zealand.”
Acting as a mentor to the girls will be former Silver Fern and current Central Pulse defender Sulu Fitzpatrick.
Assisting Fitzpatrick will be Fa’amu Ioane, current Northern Stars mid-courter and member of the New Zealand under-21 side that took home the World Youth Championship title last year.
Netball Cook Islands president Mii Maui said having Cook Islands players involved in this initiative would help to improve the level of netball for not only the national team, but also the next generation of players.
“Not only will this initiative give our girls the experience of a lifetime, shadowing the life of an elite netball player, it will also open up a pathway of elite learning that will only be of benefit to our future netballers of the Cook Islands.
“It only takes one small change to make bigger changes, and this is one solid step to improving Cook Islands status in the Pacific and world netball arena.”
It was announced on Thursday that no netball will be played this weekend in the Rising Stars Netball Tournament due to family bereavements affecting the netball community.
“The RSEC and VP Local Competitions would like to pass our sincere condolences to Ngere, Aunty Kopu and families for the bereavements experienced recently,” Rongokea said.