Badminton Cook Islands soak in four-day development camp in Auckland. Photo: RNZ/Talei Anderson/21043050
Junior badminton players from the Cook Islands are competing in the Waikato U17 Open tournament this weekend, following a four-day development camp in Auckland.
The eight teenagers competed at the North
Island/Bay of Plenty U15 and U19 Championships in Tauranga last weekend, and
are making the most of their trip before they head home next week.
Badminton player, Te Pa O Te Rangi Tupa, with
doubles partner Tereapii Akavi, overcame Auckland players in the U15 division 3
last weekend. She said she doesn’t plan on returning home without some
“It’s been tough playing against those who
aren’t at the same level that we are playing, but it’s how we get better,” she
“We’re hoping we can step up our game, reach
division 2, and become the first badminton Cook Islands players to win a
The 12-year-old junior said she feels very
lucky to have travelled to play a sport she loves.
“It really feels amazing especially when we
haven’t been playing tournaments overseas for the past maybe two years.”
Badminton Oceania’s coaching and development
manager, Robbie Thackham, said he was happy to be coaching face-to-face again.
“It’s been well over a year, so we haven’t had
any players here since October 2019, it’s been great to have them back, to play
tournaments and to be training together again.”
He said the Cook Islands have been one of the
most outstanding Pacific countries when it comes to badminton, despite the
“They’ve had a really strong internal
competition, they’ve had a lot of new adults (sign up to play), and they’ve
also got some players from Asia who are living and working there that have made
a big difference to these guys being able to play against them.”
“They’ve also increased their in-country
training so the level has been good from them, they’ve come back at a very good
standard and it’s good to have them in international competition now that
they’re able to compete and test their level to see how much they've improved.”
While players have been focused on training,
Badminton Cook Islands management group have been learning more about
professional event implementation to improve the services available in country.
Badminton Cook Islands president, Thomas
Mereana-Ngauru, said they’re soaking in as much as they can.
“There are a couple of us running software
classes because we’re running a lot of tournaments back home now, so that will
benefit us tremendously,” he said.
“We also have some parents here who are doing
a foundation coaching course which will slowly work towards becoming a Level 1
BWF certified coach, so really this trip we’re trying to learn as much as we
Mereana-Ngauru believes the trip to New
Zealand will open more opportunities for badminton players back home.
“Every time we come over, we think about the
next thing to do in terms of our development,” he said.
“We’ve been looking into maybe scholarships
for a lot of our players because we don’t have the competition back home and
this would be the perfect place for them to be full-time, to be able to lift
their level and to remain competitive with players from New Zealand.”
While no events are confirmed because of
Covid-19, he said plans are in the works to return before the end of the year,
with the Oceania Junior Champs scheduled for February 2022.