Netball | SPORTS

Netball Loss To Tonga Is A Wake Up Call

The Fiji Pearls’ loss to min­nows Tonga early this week during the PacificAus Sports Netball series in Sydney has sent out a warning to the net­ball fraternity here.
26 Mar 2022 15:45
Netball Loss To Tonga Is A Wake Up Call
From left-right: Fijian Pearls captain Alisi Naqiri and her Tongan counterpart Peti Talanoa in Sydney, Australia. Photo: Netball Tonga.

The Fiji Pearls’ loss to min­nows Tonga early this week during the PacificAus Sports Netball series in Sydney has sent out a warning to the net­ball fraternity here.

Netball has been around in Fiji close to 50 years and the women dominated sport is comparable to rugby here.

Fiji had been dominating the South Pacific Games wining gold since it first started. They are also the current South Pacific champi­ons.

Tonga does not come close to Fiji in the size, population, facility and competition yet they were able to beat us.

The Friendly Islands do not even have the luxury of member affilia­tion, facilities and technical exper­tise but they did the impossible in walloping the Fiji Pearls 68-54.

The two Pacific neighbours play the final today. Nothing is going to stop the Ladies in Red in repeating the end result.

National coach Unaisi Rokoura has been there, done that, she is not going to take any chance – Fiji Pearls must win.

With so many new sports sprout­ing around us, those in control of netball here should be thinking outside the box now if they don’t want us finishing at the bottom on the ladder in the South Pacific in the near future.

Right now the popularity of rug­by and football are killing women dominating sports.

The popularity of rugby and foot­ball among our young women is overwhelming; there are more of them in rugby/football boots than netball shoes – more in rugby jer­seys/football uniform than netball bibs.

What is happening? Didn’t any­one see this coming?

Samoa and Fiji played off for 13th place at the 2020 World Cup in Liv­erpool; they have since slipped to 16th and 17th in the world respec­tively, with Tonga ranked 19th and Papua New Guinea a distant 34th.

Finger pointing is not going to do us good, we need to put our act together, there needs to be drastic changes and creation of new path­ways for our locals.

Netball Fiji now is made up of a group of dynamic administrators, technical officials and support group but there needs to be more programmes to entice young wom­en to stick to netball.

We can no longer remain with the same old same approach and atti­tude.

This is a good time to draw up a strategic plan, with long term goals and targets. Get the right marketing mechanism and people.

Those in the realm of leadership need to have a holistic approach from membership, games, welfare, sponsorship, facilities, OHS, selec­tion.

There is no shortage of talent all they are lacking is exposure to top level competitions. We can start on the home front by reviving Central, Western and Northern netball ral­lies; there is no harm in tapping on the right door to revive the Catho­lic and the Sangam women netball tournaments.

The inter-provincial netball ral­lies are another way to attract young women to netball which can also be divided into the three con­federacies – Kubuna, Burebasaga and Tovata.

Then you have age groups from 18 to 21, Under-30 and over-30 with towns and cities automatically ab­sorbed into the confederacy they come under.

Clear processes and planning with achievable targets is a good springboard to get financial back­ing.

Netball Fiji should get their act together now if they want Fiji to claim back its rightful place – Number 1 in the South Pacific.

Netball should take cue from rugby for coaching – while all pro­vincial sides have local coaches, expatriates are head coaches of national sides like the Swire Ship­ping Fijian Drua and Flying Fiji­ans.

Records speak for themselves

n Australian Julie Hoornweg en­joyed two stints coaching the Fiji Pearls national team (from 1997-1999, and again in 2014).

Under her term Fiji finished sixth in the World Netball Champion­ships, finishing sixth in their best placing at the 1999 tournament.

There was also Vicki Wilson, a former New Zealand assistant coach and one of Australia’s great players.

Jenny Brazel had a short stint. There needs to be a better recruit­ment panel to get the best to coach the national side.

All these need to be reflected in the new strategic plan. At the end of the day it is getting the right people doing the specific job.


Got A News Tip

Get updates from the Fiji Sun, handpicked and delivered to your inbox.

By entering your email address you're giving us permission to send you news and offers. You can opt-out at any time.