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Rising Stars Championship kicks off

Saturday 20 May 2023 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Education, National, Other Sports, Sports


Rising Stars Championship kicks off
Games kicked off with the Future Stars U11 and U13 netball and rugby games for primary schools followed by the Rising Stars U13 and U15 games for secondary schools. LOSIRENE LACANIVALU/23051948

About 900 players from 75 teams gathered at Raemaru Park in Arorangi yesterday to kick start the 2023 Rising Stars Championship.

Netball and Quick Rip rugby kicked off for the primary school students at Raemaru Park while volleyball for secondary students was held at the Vodafone Sports Arena in Nikao.

The six-week event will see the students having fun, gaining skills and competing for the top spot and sponsored prizes.

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

Acknowledging all the sponsors and major sponsors Vodafone Cook Islands and Bank of the Cook Islands (BCI), Jackie said it had been an amazing seven years and they could not have done it without the sponsors.

She reminded the students that they were there to support them in their journey through life.

Jackie said life was like a jigsaw puzzle and Rising Stars was one of the puzzles helping them through their journey.

“As of today, for the next six weeks, we are running the Rising Stars Championship, don’t waste the opportunity. Give it your all ... keep clean habits … eat well....”

Apii Nikao players makes a break against Takitumu in Quick Rip rugby. LOSIRENE LACANIVALU/23051927

The Rising Stars vision comes from a desire to bring the Cook Islands 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. 

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.

St Joseph’s Primary School principal Savenaca Tukitoba said they fielded a girls team in the Quick Rip competition for the first time, adding they enjoyed it.

“We decided to send a girls team this year because there were more girls in our Year 5 and 6 so why not give them a chance,” Tukitoba said.

“We also have a netball team and the rest of the girls will participate in the Quick Rip competition,” he added.