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Rising Stars back for 9th year

Friday 24 May 2024 | Written by Supplied | Published in Netball, Other Sports, Rugby Union, Sports


Rising Stars back for 9th year
Apii Nikao players make a break against Takitumu in Quick Rip rugby last year. LOSIRENE LACANIVALU/23051927

The annual Rising Stars Championship is back on, with all primary and secondary schools on Rarotonga battling it out in netball and rugby over the next six Fridays at the Arorangi Sports Complex at Raemaru Park.

The opening round of the weekly competition will be held today. Proudly supported by platinum sponsors Vodafone and Bank of the Cook Islands and many generous supporting partners, the Rising Stars Championship is coming into its ninth year running with Imanuela Akatemia hosting.

A total of 60 teams are registered with almost 600 players competing for the top spot and sponsored prizes.

Tournament director Jackie Rongo has been working on the Rising Stars vision since 2016 with her husband Dr Teina Rongo alongside a group of passionate volunteers. 

From beginning with netball to adding in quick rip and rugby for boys and girls in 2019 with the transition into schools, as well as volleyball last year, the tournament is making strides.

“The Rising Stars Championship continues to grow and evolve, working with our schools to provide a platform through sports for our children to learn good core values of discipline and respect, practice a healthier lifestyle by exercising and being conscious of what they are consuming, and stay away from bad habits.”  

It was welcomed news to Rising Stars organisers with the Tobacco Amendment Bill passing recently, moving to ban e-cigarettes and vapes in country. Vaping by minors, especially primary school students during the tournament and in schools, was problematic in previous years and was addressed by both organisers and schools alike. 

“Ultimately, we hope each participant will aim higher to be an elite athlete in their code of choice and a better person all around,” Rongo shared.

The Rising Stars vision comes from a desire to bring our communities together and build resilience through sport. From its conception, Rising Stars has worked with community supporters and volunteers to make the dream a reality.

Objectives focus on providing opportunities for talented local juniors to develop their skills, to create a professional tournament to attract young athletes to the sport, to bring rugby and netball interest back into the communities to foster grassroots support, and to develop and strengthen local-based athletes for selection into the national squad. 

“Rising Stars Volleyball for secondary schools will run in Term 3, and primary schools in Term 4. Another exciting new development is we will also be expanding to Enuamanu School in Atiu next term! Meitaki Rānuinui to those moving and working to help grow opportunities for our tamariki,” Rongo exclaimed.

Ben Koteka of Cook Islands Rugby Union, Ngere Puia of Netball Cook Islands, and Robert Graham of Cook Islands Volleyball are the competition managers of each respective code, assisted by the Cook Islands Sports and National Olympic Committee. 

The tournament also promotes healthy living and being sugar free/fizz free, smoke free, and green alongside core values of discipline, respect, integrity, passion and solidarity. This year, the Rising Stars Championship continues to link up with the Pacific Sporting Partnership and Healthy Living with Cook Islands Rugby Union and Netball Cook Islands, and also Te Marae Ora with combating NCDs through the “10 Minutes to Change” campaign.

The opening ceremony starts at 10.30 am at the Arorangi Sports Complex with games kicking off after with the Future Stars 11U and 13U netball and rugby games for primary schools followed by the Rising Stars 13U AND 15U games for secondary schools. 

The Rising Stars Executive Committee are extremely grateful to platinum sponsors Vodafone and Bank of the Cook Islands who continue to support the vision! Gold Sponsors are Te Marae Ora, The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Spa, Rongohiva, the Cook Islands Rugby Union with NZ Rugby, and Kōrero o te ‘Ōrau.  Parau Pearl Sponsors are Captain Tamas, Cook Islands Television, Creators Hype, Rongokura Productions, Akau Film, Moana Sands, Cook Islands Printing Services, and Sei Photography.  Pipi Pearl Sponsors are Kuki Tag Adventures, KiteSUP, Palm Grove, Rehab Rarotonga Bus, CITC, and Ocean Toa. Superstar Sponsors are The Edgewater Resort & Spa, Vans, RaroXpo, Ministry of Cultural Development, Arorangi Sports Federation, Ariki Adventures, Island Craft, and Cook Islands Tourism.  Meitaki Ma’ata also to community volunteers as well as the Ministry of Education and all participating schools!