SPORTS

Women In Sports: Alesi Waqa-Paul

Alesi Waqa-Paul had always dreamt of donning the national netball jumper at a very young age.
05 Apr 2020 12:02
Women In Sports: Alesi Waqa-Paul
Former Fiji netball rep,Alesi Waqa Photo: Supplied/Alesi Waqa

Alesi Waqa-Paul had always dreamt of donning the national netball jumper at a very young age.

Well-known for her energetic vibe on the court, the mother of two has played 68 Test caps for the national netball team known as the Fijian Pearls.

She loved the game when she was only two years old and still does now at 34.

Waqa currently plays for the Magic Marlins in the Netball Super League in Singapore.

It became her life when she joined Adi Cakobau School from Penang Sangam School in Rakiraki.

The Nawairuku, Ra, native says that she has met a diversity of people through netball.

“I love this sport so much because I get to meet different people with different backgrounds.” she said.

“I fell in love with netball when I was 2 years old,I always follow my mum Mrs Aseri Waqa and her netball team around.

“I started playing at 6 years old. When I joined Adi Cakobau School, I started to take the sport seriously and from there I made up my mind that I will don the national dress in the future.

With that dream in mind, Waqa, her younger sister Ekari, cousin Vaiti Waqatabu and an ACS teacher, the late Mrs Komera Tuicakau, formed a new netball club in the Nasinu Netball Association.

The club, ACSOG, is still active today and it has bred Fiji netball reps like her and Waqatabu.

From playing at the ACSOG club she was spotted by the then netball coach, Megan Simpson and she was a Team Fiji member to the Samoa Pacific Games where they won gold.

“In 2006 I was told to join the national squad which was coached by Megan Simpson at that time, there was no looking back for me.”

She missed the World Netball championship in 2007 when she was pregnant with her first son.

Having her first child did not stop her from continuing to play the game she loved, Waqa ran on the court again when her son was just two months old.

“I gave birth to my second son in 2010 and again joined the national squad in the same year where we started our preparations for the 2011 World champs.”

Her most favourite moment is playing at home.

“Especially for my family because they don’t get to watch us when we go on tour.”

RECORDS

Netball has taken Waqa to various countries and she has achieved so much in the sport;

• She has 2 gold medals from the Pacific Games.

• Played at the 2011 and 2015 Netball World Cup Championships.

– Waqa has played in 3 Pacific Nations Cup (gold medals),

• 1 Nations Cup (gold medal)

• 1 Commonwealth Games.

CHALLENGES

Like any other sportsperson, Waqa faced challenges in the sport.

She ruptured a knee ligament during one of the games at the Commonwealth Games.

“I was out from all competitive netball after I fully ruptured my ACL (knee) and my MCL during the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia in 2018.

“I didn’t agree on having surgery so I opted for knee rehab. Unaisi Rokoura was the one that helped me with my knee rehab.”

MOTIVATION

Despite all she faced she was thankful to have her family, who were her greatest motivation.

“When playing and I feel pressured, I always picture my kids standing at the end of a dark tunnel calling out to me with a serve of chillie chicken (my favourite food) in their hands.

“So I always tell myself that I gotta face these hardships, get this done and over with and then go get my kids with my chilly chicken of course”

She also acknowledged her parents in Rakiraki, for looking after her two sons while she continues with her netball career.

FUTURE PLANS

Apart from continuing her work as a Police officer,Waqa wishes to pursue netball coaching in the future.

“I am a Police officer and when I’m on leave or not on duty, I do work with NetGo whereby I am a coach developer. We go out and develop new coaches, especially teachers.

“I want to take up coaching which I have been doing ever since I injured my knee.

“I have one historic win in the bag already, assistant coach of the Fiji Police netball team during the Ratu Sukuna Bowl 2019 with the help of the legendary Unaisi Rokoura who was the head coach.”

She would like to develop netball from the grassroots

“The sport should be developed from the grass root level that is from 6 years old.

“Also a lot of developments should be done to those in the remote areas (outside of the rural areas).”

SINGAPORE

“Netball in Singapore is totally different from our style of playing here at home. They play a very fast game unlike here we are more physical (in a good way😊). The skills level is very different.

“We have a unique style of playing unlike in Singapore they have their own game plans and they have to follow it.

“For us Fijians, we can change the coach’s game plan and add some spice into it to make it more interesting.”

Waqa was on her 10th day of self-isolation at home after an early exit from the Netball Super league due to COVID – 19.

“I’ve just been catching up on my sleep and resting a lot.”

“My husband Keponi Paul has been doing everything from cooking, washing, cleaning the house and taking good care of my health since I got here (I guess he was worried that I might have caught the virus in Singapore).”

“As with most crises, COVID19 will pass and life in the sports world will return to normal. This is like our off season prep period of conditioning.”

She advises all athletes to take heed of the directives from government and health officials.

“Hang in there, this crisis will be over soon and a new season will arrive, training will resume and competitions will be held.

“We’ll look back on this crisis as a bump and then look forward to another great, fun and exciting season ahead.

“Please keep safe and stay at home so we can all kill this virus once and for all.”

Magic Marlins international player Alesi Waqa (centre) in action. Photo: NETBALL SINGAPORE

Magic Marlins international player Alesi Waqa (centre) in action. Photo: Netball Singapore

Edited by Leone Cabenatabua

Feedback: sereana.salalo@fijisun.com.fj

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