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Touch trio ready for World Cup

Thursday 23 May 2024 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Sports, Touch Rugby


Touch trio ready for World Cup
Mahana Sijp (left) will feature in the Women’s Open and Cook Islands Touch president Vou Williams (right) will play in the Men’s 30s at the 2024 Touch World Cup. LOSIRENE LACANIVALU / 24052110 / 24052111

Three players from Rarotonga are part of a wider national team including players from New Zealand and Australia that will be representing the Cook Islands at the 2024 Touch World Cup in Nottingham, United Kingdom in July.

The local players in the team are Mahana Sijp, who will participate in the Women’s Open alongside Mereana Atatoa Carr, and Cook Islands Touch Association president Vou Williams who will feature in the Men’s 30s category.

The national team is dominated by Cook Islanders who reside in New Zealand and Australia.

Sijp, who is 17 years old, took up the sport over two years ago.

“I am really excited, can’t wait to learn new skills from overseas players and go over for the World Cup,” she said.

The Cook Islands overseas-based players were picked this year and Sijp said she was happy to have been selected.

Sijp said she comes from a family who are into sports, including her mother Sunielia Tom who plays rugby and her granddad, mum’s side.

Sijp said she comes from a sporty family, including her mother Sunielia Tom who plays rugby as well as her maternal grandfather.

“So all the skills have pretty much come from mum and probably fitness from dad.”

Sijp said her parents don’t give her much advice but are always encouraging her to go beyond her limits and ensure she attends her training.

“They’re always supporting me on the sideline or even on the field. So whenever I’m doing something wrong or not on track, they’re always there to pull me up and just keep pushing me through.”

The Tereora College Year 13 student hopes to take up a flight attendant’s course in the future or pursue a career in physiotherapy.

Sijp advises younger people to work hard, “and if you’re willing to do something, you must aim for it and don’t give up”.

“Don’t let go of it, and start now,” she added.

Cook Islands Touch president Vou Williams says he is looking forward to learning and gaining experience at the World Cup.

Williams said the game has changed significantly compared to the Cook Islands, where they compete against the same players all the time.

He is looking forward to picking up a trick or two from the World Cup to show youths in Cook Islands.

The 32-year-old businessman and chef said that he applied to join the World Cup trials and was selected to attend a fitness and skill test in New Zealand.

“I’ve been playing touch for over four years now. I’ve experienced two Pacific Games. It’s a great sport. It’s a great game, and requires different skills, if you are keen to become a professional rugby player, a netball player or rugby union, 7s, Touch will help you because it’s definitely faster than rugby and netball.”