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Netballers set to jump for spotlight

Wednesday 24 November 2021 | Written by Sian Solomon | Published in

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Netballers set to jump for spotlight
Titikaveka and Matavera U6 Mix players chase for the ball. 21112315

Rarotonga’s biggest netball event of the year is returning to the island and kicking off tomorrow. Netball Already in Paradise, a twist on the renowned Netball in Paradise event which usually welcomes overseas teams, will celebrate the local passion and skill for the round ball this year in the absence of overseas friends due to the global pandemic Covid-19.

The event runs tomorrow and Friday at the TSA from 3pm onwards, with the finals taking place on Saturday from 9am.

It will be the first event of its kind, organised by Netball Cook Islands (NCI).

The difference between this year’s event and previous ones lie in the fact that there will be no overseas teams overseas and fewer grades.

The event will feature a mixture of both experienced, new and young players.

Eight teams are registered in the Mixed Open Grade and five teams are registered for the Open Women’s Grade.

There is also one team that has come from Aitutaki who will compete and participate in the tournament.

Categories include; Open Women, Social Women, Open Mixed, and Open Mixed Social Walking Netball.

NCI president Mii Maui said 150 competitors are expected over three days from November 25.

“This is the first time it’s been domestic, it’s normally international.

“Last year we decided to postpone it to 2021, then we decided to do the same again this year,” she said.

Meanwhile, a locals-only tournament will serve as a replacement competition to allow local players to still enjoy a tournament despite Covid-19 taking away international inclusion.

Maui said plans are in place to revive the international event in December 2022.

“Once NCI in partnership with the event organiser DMCK (Destination Management Cook Islands) decided to postpone NIP 2021 (discussions started in September) to December 2022 due to uncertainty of travel borders opening, an idea to replace this with a local event was thought of.” 

Tekura Moekaa, secretary for NCI said; “NCI doesn’t feel any different about having no overseas teams this year, as we are providing a platform for our Cook Islands people to get involved in Netball.

“Like many sports who are promoting health and fitness, NCI is just happy to be able to provide a channel for keeping active, participation, and inclusion.

“If anything, this will showcase 100 percent local talent, which we are excited about.”

She expressed NCI’s excitement to see the event provide the opportunity for the island’s young, experienced, as well as male players to display their skills.