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Cook Islands taste victory in Auckland

Saturday 18 February 2023 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in Badminton, Sports

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Cook Islands taste victory in Auckland
Team Cook Islands at the Open Mixed Team tournament in Auckland. Photo Credit: Paul Foxall/23021729

A team from the Cook Islands has entered the VICTOR Oceania Open Mixed Team Championships for the very first time. The three-day event held in Auckland started on Thursday (Cook Islands time).

Cook Islands’ entry is testament to the collaboration between Badminton Oceania and Badminton Cook Islands over player development initiatives and coach development opportunities which helped them reach this milestone, a statement from Badminton Oceania said.

At the Open Mixed Team tournament on Thursday, Cook Islands opened their campaign against the Pacific giants, Tahiti, who were crowned champions at the Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games 2022 eight months ago.

Emanuela Mataio and Tereapii Akavi held their nerve in the mixed doubles tie, which opened proceedings, pulling through in two incredibly close games. Followed by a women’s singles win (by Te Pa O Te Te Rangi Tupa), taking Tahiti by surprise with a 2-0 lead. While Glen Lefoll took the following men’s singles, the Cook Islands retaliated with a women’s doubles win to guarantee an overall victory.

“We brought a really positive mindset. Believe in yourself, it’s all in Gods timing. I was relaxed on court for singles, I’d already played my opponent before and won so I had a really positive mindset,” said players Te Pa Tupa.

“I was pretty scared beforehand, too much nerves. I’m tired. Our number one goal was to beat Tahiti, that’s it. We did it with communication, teamwork, and an aggressive attitude. Going out first in mixed, it was up to us to get it started and take the first win, a few times we were under pressure, but we kept believing. I had a good banana breakfast, early dinner (previous night) and good rest. Teamwork makes the dreamwork,” said player Tereapii Akavi.

Thomas Mereana-Ngauru, Badminton Cook Islands president, said: “It’s our first ever open tie – it’s huge. It’s definitely satisfying, to put in all this work over the years and see it finally pay off.  When you think back to where we came from, we never could have thought we’d get to here.”

“Now everyone in our country can see that our hard work is finally producing results. I hope we are an example to other countries. It’s been hard and it’s been a lot of work. Thanks to Oceania for pushing us and helping us, if it wasn’t for the team at Oceania we wouldn’t be here, we feel so lucky.”

Cook Islands player Emanuela Mataio said: “It was a tough match against Tahiti, I was really nervous at the start, I really happy we got up to win the first game, I’m so happy with our performance and that we were able to win.”

Significant steps in Badminton Cook Islands’ journey to date include:

  • BWF-WAoS PPP (Player Performance Pathway) workshop 2015 Cook Islands attended and developed a pathway plans for young players beginning at Shuttle Time
  • CIBA were committed in sticking to their plan & progressing their players through at the appropriate level rather than being diverted into entering Pacific Games or Oceania Championships before they were ready
  • 2016 Cooks first experience at AIMS Games (school multisport event for intermediate aged pupil 10-13yrs) held in Tauranga, NZ
  • 2017 AIMS Games involved athletes from Cook Islands & Tonga who are here competing in the open division
  • 2019 – Tereapii first tasted success at AIMS Games
  • Several player development camps delivered to players from the Cook Islands over the years, in-country or part of a Pacific Development Programme
  • Almost the entire Cooks team competing this week has come through the BOC Player Development programme
  • Badminton Oceania