Netball | SPORTS

Tonga Coach Expected Otherwise From Pearls

Tonga Tala head coach Ja­qua Pori-Makea-Simpson’s comment of having their expectation from Fiji Pearls fall­ing short after Tonga mercilessly walloped the once Pacific giants 59-29; is both a challenge and mo­tivation.
22 Jul 2022 15:15
Tonga Coach Expected Otherwise From Pearls
Fiji Pearls goal attack Maliana Rusivakula (with ball) looks for support during their match against Tonga in the Vodafone Oceania Netball World Cup qualifer at the Vodafone Arena, Suva, on July 20, 2022. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Tonga Tala head coach Ja­qua Pori-Makea-Simpson’s comment of having their expectation from Fiji Pearls fall­ing short after Tonga mercilessly walloped the once Pacific giants 59-29; is both a challenge and mo­tivation.

However one takes that state­ment, it is time Netball Fiji House wakes up from its slumber. The re­cent match result is a wake-up call. Continuing from where predeces­sors had left and or the mentality of carrying on the business as usu­al mentality should be eliminated instantly.

Strategically, Fiji is far ahead in sports administration with the academic qualifications and sports knowledge of those now pulling the strings in what used to be the most popular women participation sports here.

To be walloped over four quarters at home by a group of fresh faced women in red was least expected on Wednesday night.

Points in the first quarter to Ton­ga Tala’s favour were 15-3, second quarter 19-5, third quarter 14-10 and final quarter 11-all to tally 59-29 to the South Pacific netball min­nows.

It is probably early Christmas now in the Pacific kingdom. They have every right to be putting together a kaipola (Tonga feast) following their sterling performance against the Fijians on Wednesday night at the Vodafone Arena in Suva.

Five Oceania nations Cook Is­lands, hosts Fiji, Papua New Guin­ea, Samoa and Tonga are here for the five-day round robin Vodafone Netball World Cup qualifiers where two from the region will qualify for the 2023 World Cup at Cap Town, South Africa.

Then this was not the first time Tonga Tala fended off the Pearls. Tonga Tala beat Fiji twice three months ago at the PacificAust se­ries in Brisbane.

The newly assembled Tongan side beat Fiji 68-54 and again 60-52 in the final to claim gold.

Tonga last played in the Netball World Cup 1999, which is 23 years ago. They are not ranked in the World Netball (previously known as the International Netball Fed­eration and the International Fed­eration of Netball Associations) could become ranked once they have played six matches.

The six countries that took part in the March series were Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga and Singapore – it was a sweepstake for the Tongans winning five games there and this week play four games (against Samoa, Fiji, Cook Islands and Tonga) to add up to nine matches (three more than the required six).

WN ranking in March lists Cook Islands on 14th spot with 82 points, Fiji 15th with 70 points, Samoa 16th with 68 points and Papua New Guinea 35th with 11 points.

Tonga’s coming into the limelight can be likened to the rising of a phoenix. They have had enough of being outplayed, beaten, and walked over the last four decades.

They have the works – a colourful head coach and sound skills coach in the fold are the two important elements delivering the positive outcomes.

Where there is a will, there is a way. They watched and learned. They collected information and data, analysed findings and re­ports, picked the right people for the coaching and management de­partments and handpicked players regardless where they were living.

Simpson has 20 years of coaching experience who won the Netball NSW Head Coach of the Year in 2016. After living in Australia for 26 years she has returned to New Zea­land and is the General Manager of Netball Taranaki.

Netball Tonga are thanking their lucky stars to have someone of Pori-Makea-Simpson’s calibre to help develop the national team achieve their goals of where they want to take their national side.

We have been confidently told that Pori-Makea-Simpson only got to meet most her players for the first time at the Sydney airport for the March PacificAust series and put them together three days prior to the tournament.

In hammering the Fijian Pearls for the third time in three months they can confidently be ticking the boxes for the trip to Cape Town next year.

They outshined the locals in all departments; they were thinkers, shakers and movers in both goal thirds and mid court.

Their range of vision assisted them to read and outwit the lethar­gic Fijian set that failed to bring along match skills and tricks to stretch the Tongans.

There is no excuse for the Fijians to fall short and or give the Ton­gans a run for their money.

On record Fiji has been to the World Cup nine times. They have played in the 2002 and 2006 Com­monwealth Games in Manchester, England and Melbourne Australia respectively.

Fiji has been taking part in the South Pacific Games since 1963 winning gold in 1963, 1979, 1995 to 2015. In the 2017 World Youth Cup Fiji finished fourth.

There is no time to point fingers, or sit back and feel sorry. Other sports are coming into the lime­light and enticing potential gold winners into other directions.

Summon a group for a think tank to take Fiji out of this doom. It is not too late to salvage a sinking vessel. Let us get started as soon as we can for netball.

Feedback: karalaini.waqanidrola@fijisun.com.fj



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