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Youngsters ready for Rising Stars

Thursday 18 May 2023 | Written by Supplied | Published in Other Sports, Sports


Youngsters ready for Rising Stars
The 2023 Rising Stars Championship will kick off this Friday at the Arorangi Sports Complex. RISING STARS/23051718

Rarotonga schools are all set for the annual Rising Stars Championship which starts this Friday at the Arorangi Sports Complex.

The addition of Girls Quick Rip rugby for primary schools and volleyball for secondary schools will take the competition to the next level, the organisers say.

Proudly supported by platinum sponsors Vodafone and BCI and many generous supporting partners, the Rising Stars Championship is coming into its eight-year running with Titikaveka College as the hosts.

Games for netball and rugby commence at the Arorangi Sports Complex at Raemaru Park this Friday. A total of 75 teams from primary and secondary schools across Rarotonga for the three codes of netball, rugby, and volleyball with inclusive teams will see almost 900 players 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 passionate volunteers.

“Eight years into this tournament, it’s been incredible to watch our tamariki grow into mature young adults with new ones feeding in behind them,” Jackie said.

“It’s been one of our dreams that this tournament continues to be a platform for them 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.

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

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 & 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.

Jackie Rongo said: “Volleyball is my first love and I’ve been working in the space of youth development for the past couple of years. I’m so pleased to be working alongside schools and the Cook Islands Volleyball Federation to add this code into the Championship.”

“It’s also very empowering to know that girls Quick Rip rugby is taking hold, and that this code is also opening doors for our vaine toa.”

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 their respective code.

The opening ceremony starts at 11am at the Arorangi Sports Complex with games kicking off with the Future Stars 11 and under and 13U netball and rugby games for primary schools followed by the Rising Stars 13U and 15U games for secondary schools. Volleyball will be played at the Vodafone Sports Arena in Nikao with doors opening at 5pm.

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 Cook Islands Rugby Union with the PSP Programme, Rongohiva, and Kōrero o te ‘Ōrau. Parau Pearl sponsors are Captain Tamas, Rongokura Productions, Peramedia, Cook Islands Television, Cook Islands Tourism, Creators Hype, Moana Sands, Charlize Tuara Photography, Akau Film, and Cook Islands Printing Services. Pipi Pearl sponsors are KiteSUP, Kuki Tag Adventures, Rehab Rarotonga Bus, Palm Grove, Island Craft, The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Spa, and Ariki Adventures. Superstar sponsors are CITC, Ministry of Cultural Development, Cook Islands Sports, Arorangi Sports Federation, The Edgewater Resort & Spa, Vans, and RaroXpo.

“Meitaki ma’ata also to community volunteers as well as the Ministry of Education and all participating schools!”