The Fiji Times » Goal of netball – Training camp to identify potential players

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The Fiji Netball Training Camp has registered 94 age players from the Fiji Secondary Schools Netball Championship and the Punjas/Digicel Inter-District Championship.

The training camp allowed national selectors to identify potential players who will be included in the inaugural Fiji Netball Academy. The players belong to the U15, U17 and U19 and Open categories.

The training camp was led by Fiji Pearls head coach Unaisi Rokoura and other national coaches and coaches who will focus on general basic netball training.

General manager Vivian Koster said there was a need to develop the young players who would one day represent the Fiji Pearls.

“One of the things we have recognized is that we have to build our base and the fact that we were able to select 94 players in the first half shows us that there is so much interest in so much talent,” said she declared.

“So we have a wide range of talent and that talent is prevalent and so we see this as an opportunity to test them again and then build the academy.

“And the idea behind the academy is that we build a pool of players and we bring them through. So 16 and under for example, we bring them through.

“The next stop would be 18 and under and then from there 20s and Fiji pearls.

“To keep in mind that in 2025 it’s the Youth Netball World Cup.

“If you remember the last time it was held, we were supposed to hold it, but COVID canceled it. Last time it was in Botswana and Fiji finished fourth which is the best result we have had in the network. With that in mind, we want to build our player base specifically for this and the Fiji Pearls.

She added that it was a long term plan that came to fruition and something that was also in the works is the kind of facilities needed to help boost this project.

“A plan that we have in place and just acknowledging that yes, we have big plans, but we also need to hone the skills and do that at a lower level and take them forward into future projects. That would be ideal.

“And that, of course, requires a lot of funding. And so that’s one of the other things as well is, you know, our ability to have partnerships, for example, our ability to have an academy, our ability, to compete in championships, all of those things.

“It’s very important because it tells partners who can fund facilities like this is a sport you want to support and it’s the ideal situation that we have our own facility, that we have our own courts, we we have our own gym and again it’s an ideal, it’s a long-term plan, but it requires a lot of effort in the meantime, again in terms of partnerships.

“We are also looking at the possibility of partnering with other sports that have these facilities which we could also access.

“We are in the early stages of this conversation. So at the moment we are using the National Fitness Center and the facilities that the Fiji Sports Council has.

She said that towards the end of this month, the Australian Defense Force will be in Fiji to hold multi-sport workshops.

“We are lucky to be one of those sports and we have 28 people that we have identified to come in and get basic training and basic officiating and we have made a very deliberate decision to contact coaches who are , for example, in Kadavu or in the interiors of Viti Levu.

“We have the coach who comes from Sigatoka, someone from Labasa. So we are trying to keep it away from the normal areas of Suva and Lautoka.

“The idea is that if we can provide them with certain basic skills, they come back and they teach those skills and those players learn that and we benefit from that in the long run.”

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Richard V. Johnson