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Preparations for Pacific Games step up a gear for golfers

Thursday 20 April 2023 | Written by Supplied | Published in Other Sports, Sports


Preparations for Pacific Games step up a gear for golfers
National golfer Rotana Howard will lead the 2023 team. Photo: Supplied/22060305

The 17th Pacific Games are being held in Honiara, Solomon Islands in November and National Federations are working towards making the necessary preparations at these early stages, with selections for team and managers.

Golf Cook Islands is pleased to confirm that Mr Henry “Ali” Napa has been appointed as manager of the golf team to the Pacific Games 2023. Napa has played golf for over 30 years, and for the last five years he has been the Club Captain of the Rarotonga Golf Club. Napa has been a national representative player in rugby and league and also brings significant sports administration experience through his time as President and Treasurer with both Arorangi rugby and rugby league. In its April report, the Cook Islands Sport and National Olympic Committee said it is grateful Napa had put his hand up for the role, “as we know it will require a big time commitment and a lot of work involved in planning for the games, and getting the team prepared”.

The first phase of selection for our golf squad is now underway with interest from the senior players in Rarotonga in trialing for the team, and some interest from overseas based Cook Islanders. Over the coming weeks Cook Islands is expecting to see the best from its senior golfers.

The women’s team to the games will be led by 2022 Mini Games silver medallist, Rotana Howard. Howard has experience through representative golf in New Zealand, multiple Pacific Games and Mini Games, and dominating the women’s game here in Rarotonga over the past ten years.

A tight battle is anticipated for the rest of the squad places with young Aitutaki golfer Maputai Cecil challenging to be selected for her first national squad alongside more experienced golfers and previous games medalists Memory Akama and Rowena Newbigging, as well as others including the Howard sisters, Leslie and Anna, who have both recently returned to golf.

There is hope Elmay Viking will be available for selection, having started playing at a high level again in 2022.

In 2009, at age 15, Viking won the individual gold medal at the Mini games in Rarotonga, followed by a bronze medal at the Pacific Games in Noumea in 2011 and a silver medal in PNG in 2015, so she would bring a high level of experience and talent to the team.

Leading the men’s team will be the experienced William Howard who has represented the country successfully for the past ten years including winning the individual silver medal at the Pacific Games in PNG in 2015.

Kris Williamson is also expected to continue to perform at a high level and be near the top of the trial results but will face a strong challenge for selection from a mixture of young and exciting talent such as Leonard Roa and Jojo Karati, along with more experienced senior players and national reps such as Daniel Webb and James Herman.

It is sure to be a tight battle for selection which will mean everyone will need to stay committed to their practice and focused on their game.

Golf Cook Islands said it is excited about the year to come and with a team that will be sure to have a wealth of experience as well as some young talent, they are confident that with the right preparation leading into the games, golf will have a great chance of winning medals in Honiara.

Meanwhile, rugby league has already begun its preparations towards the 2023 Pacific Games by using the 2023 domestic season as a platform for players to get fit and get game time.

The season which spans over 13 weeks of competition will help coaches in their selection of players for both a men’s and women’s team.

Cook Islands Rugby League Association (CIRLA) is also looking at including Cook Islands players from overseas as well, provided they meet the qualification criteria.

CIRLA has not made any announcements of its selected teams, but a wider squad listing has already been submitted consisting of players who have participated in the recent nines tournament held in January this year and the recent Cook Islands Games held in October 2022.

The primary concern now is funding.

They have an international qualifying match occurring around the same time and so are in discussions to see if they are financially capable of funding both events or not.