Five days of competitive netball ended with down-to-the-wire final matches to determine the champions in each of the five tournament divisions who were then honoured in a spectacular island night finale at The Islander Hotel.
Sneakers and bibs were swapped for party frocks and dancing shoes as netball players and supporters enjoyed the camaraderie of being part of the netball family, with the focus of the annual tournament on both junior netball development and simply having fun and enjoying the game of netball.
The junior division, which was dominated by local teams, highlighted the positive development of netball over recent years.
Top netballers in the Rarotonga Pearls under 15 squad proved they deserved their place after taking out the age grade but it wasn’t without a fight against the Tereora College team.
The national college team took second place with Tupapa placing third in the division.
Piopio College took top honors in the under 17 division and their male netball players breaking the old school thinking that netball is only for girls. The visiting school brought the roof down on the Islander Hotel with a thunderous haka in respect for their main rival in the division, the Rarotonga Pearls under 17 squad who graciously accepted the second place trophy with Pakuranga United placing third.
Hanana Netball Club topped the social ladies division with the Rarotonga Pearls under 21 squad placing second and the beautiful Pretty Ugly team thrilled with their third place trophy.
Stacked with top local netters from the Titikaveka Netball Club including national netball captain Luciana Nicholas and coached by former Silver Fern great Margaret Matenga, the Muri Beach Club Mermaids put on a dynamo final to win the open ladies division against the Waka team of Kuki Arani netters from Perth while Kiwi team Maketu placed third.
The highly skilled and competitive mixed open division was a tight battle from day one but it was the North Harbour crew that rose to the top edging out team Waka from Perth to be crowned 2019 champions. Team Bubz picked up third spot.
The finale night was not only an opportunity to commend the netball talent on court throughout the tournament but also to thank local businesses who continue to sponsor netball development in the Cook Islands.
Kudos to Arorangi Sports Association and community for the outstanding facilities, including the clubrooms, upgraded courts with shaded stands and new spot lights that contributed to the successful running of Netball in Paradise.
T&M Contractors played a key role in the village’s sports facilities upgrade that will serve the netball and sports community for many generations to come and ensure the game of netball thrives.
The event would not be possible without the financial support of gold and naming sponsors Bank South Pacific who also helped make visiting netballers feel special with welcome bags of goodies.
Associate sponsors Cook Islands Tourism and Island Car and Bike Hire made sure visitors were well informed and moving around paradise.
Event managers Destination Management Cook Islands (DMCK) of Turama Pacific Travel Group and Netball Cook Islands would like to thank local businesses and the wider community for embracing Netball in Paradise visitors and the tournament through your generous sponsorships and hospitality.