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Cooks get international exposure

Tuesday 13 December 2022 | Written by Al Williams | Published in Handball, Sports

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Cooks get international exposure
Cook Islands Youth (U18) side with officials. Picture: Jun Tanlayco/International Handball Federation/22121220

Cook Islands received a timely international exposure at the Men’s IHF Trophy Oceania tournament held last week in Rarotonga in preparation for a busy 2023 season.

The Men’s IHF Trophy Oceania, which was held between 5 and 9 December at the National Indoor Arena in Nikao, finished on Friday with five matches. Notably, the winners in both age categories had been determined already on Thursday – Tahiti claimed the title at the youth (U18) competitions, while Australia triumphed at the junior (U20) event.

Both winners qualified for the Intercontinental Phase of the IHF Trophy. Besides, Australia qualified for the 2023 IHF Men’s Junior World Championship in Germany and Greece. As Tahiti cannot play at the World Championship due to their status as regional members, the runners-up, New Zealand, secured a spot at the 2023 IHF Men’s Youth World Championship in Croatia. 

Cook Islands finished in fourth and fifth places in the Junior and Youth categories, respectively.

Handball Cook Islands president Makiroa Mitchell-John said hosting the Men’s IHF Trophy Oceania proved “quite daunting”.

Australia, Cook Islands, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Tahiti, and Tonga battled for the title in the youth (U18) category, and the same nations except Tahiti played in the junior (U20) tournament.

Mitchell-John said: “We were given a fixed budget from the international federation and we worked with the community especially our smaller businesses with caterings and other services to successfully host this tournament.”

“We also thank our parents, families and supporters, we were overwhelmed by their support.”

Mitchell-John said Cook Islands will be taking part in a number of World Cup qualifying events in 2023 including the U18 and U20 women’s tournaments.

She said last week’s tournament also served as an eye opener for national players.

“The players did well but this tournament showed them what international level really is. The attitude has to change, the mindset has to change and the players have to commit to their trainings to play well at that level,” Mitchell-John said.

“Given the preparation time we had and our experience in indoor handball I think our teams did well managing to put double digits against teams like Australia and New Zealand.”
Meanwhile on the final day of the U18 competition, New Zealand earned silver after beating direct rivals New Caledonia (27:17). The champions Tahiti maintained their perfect record, defeating Tonga (57:20), and Australia finished fourth following a victory against Cook Islands (23:16).

At the U20 tournament, the champions Australia, who had won all their four matches, did not play on Friday, and New Caledonia became runners-up after beating Cook Islands (41:17). New Zealand earned bronze, as they ended the tournament with a win against the last-placed Tonga (30:18).

Vaipuahere Barff from Tahiti youth team and Daniel Reid from Australia junior team were elected the MVP of the competitions. 

  • With additional reporting by International Handball Federation

Final ranking

Youth (U18) – 1. Tahiti – 10 points, 2. New Zealand – 8, 3. New Caledonia – 6, 4. Australia – 4, 5. Cook Islands – 2, 6. Tonga – 0.

Junior (U20) – 1. Australia – 8 points, 2. New Caledonia – 6, 3. New Zealand – 4, 4. Cook Islands – 2, 5. Tonga – 0.