The Cook Islands team at the Country of Origin Volleyball Series. SUPPLIED/23071901
Cook Islands NGO Kōrero o te ‘Ōrau’s ‘Ātui’anga ki te Tango (AKTT) 2023 team have returned with a successful win at the Country of Origin Volleyball Series in Aotearoa New Zealand earlier this month.
Auckland Cook Islands women’s team took out the women’s
division with the Cook Islands based Vaine Toa team managing third place.
The Cook Islands Auckland team was second in the men’s
Jackie Rongo, secretary of Kōrero o te ‘Ōrau, said the
win was exciting and the tournament was a good experience for the young
Rongo said it was the first time they had taken part in
the volleyball competition.
She said in July 2022, AKTT Volleyball met James Summers,
New Zealand-based sports administrator who has been involved with volleyball
development for many years, in Rarotonga when he brought teams over for some
match play opportunities during the holiday. AKTT Volleyball was invited to
participate at the Country of Origins series.
Acknowledging the Bank of Cook Islands (BCI) and the many
supporters who contributed to their fundraisings, Rongo said the programme the
NGO runs is focused on youth development.
She had earlier said that in order to participate in volleyball, students must
be a part of the AKTT programme which
is about “so much more than just the sport; there is a strong cultural aspect
Nicolea Mateariki, who joined the volleyball team, also acknowledged
the community for showing their continuous support through contributing to
their recent fundraising.
Mateariki said: “It was a great experience for myself,
getting to travel with my amazing teammates and learn more about volleyball, as
well as further information about places we stayed at.”
“I wish we could’ve stayed a bit longer, as the one-week
trip was not enough. I would just like to say congratulations to my team, Vaine
Toa, for performing very well, and for taking out bronze in the competition,
this wouldn't have been possible without our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Te
Atua Te Aroa.”
Jacques Koteka, captain of Tumutoa, said: “It was an
experience of a lifetime, we are so blessed with this opportunity of
representing the Cook Islands for volleyball in the Country of Origin.”
Tumutoa said he learnt a lot from various types of people,
adding experiencing such a competitive atmosphere “really brought the best side
of me and the team into action on and off the court”.