Young side showed courage

South Waikato News - - SPORTS / TE PAPA HAKINAKINA -

Hard work has paid off for Toko­roa’s U17 net­ball team who are now seeded 16 out of the 40 teams that com­peted in the 2014 NNZ U17 Na­tional Net­ball tour­na­ment.

The young side com­peted with courage, drive and team unity through­out the whole week op­er­at­ing on the motto that it’s not about be­ing bet­ter than some­one else; it’s about be­ing bet­ter than you were the day be­fore.

Coach Taneta Riki said teams seeded in the top 16 are large re­gional sides such as Auck­land, Christchurch, Hamil­ton and Can­ter­bury to name a few.

Their player pools con­sisted of cur­rent NNZ SEC play­ers, Aotearoa Maori SEC play­ers and iden­ti­fied high per­for­mance net­ballers.

Riki said that for Toko­roa to only have 12 tri­al­ists to reach this level was a ‘‘huge achieve­ment’’.

Se­nior team lead­ers Makaia Riki-TeKanawa (Cap­tain), Dan­nyJane Umaki and Paris John lead by ex­am­ple on and off court dis­play­ing com­pet­i­tive­ness and en­cour­age­ment for all team mem­bers, she said.

‘‘This trio was the heart of this team that made the dif­fer­ence be­tween com­pet­ing with a pur­pose to just com­pet­ing.’’

Toko­roa’s de­fen­sive unit, con­sist­ing of Makaia Riki-Tekanawa, DJ Umaki, Paris John and Ree­gan Ford cer­tainly mus­cled up against the best.

Riki said they dis­played some out­stand­ing skills, strong fight­ing at­ti­tudes - never let­ting any­thing feel easy to the op­po­si­tion.

‘‘Their re­lent­ing per­for­mances cer­tainly lifted their team mates.’’

Ex­pe­ri­enced mid- courters Chan­tae Wil­son- Jenk­ins and Tiare Manu who play to­gether in the Toko­roa com­pe­ti­tion linked both ends of the court with their speed and court smarts.

‘‘ Their abil­ity to read each other’s in­ten­tions and shooter’s po­si­tion­ing made feed­ing the cir­cle less stress­ful.’’

Riki said they played some of their best net­ball to date in the week-long tour­na­ment.

New­com­ers Paige Cuff and Cher­ish Simeon were the youngest of the team but dis­played some gutsy per­for­mances on court.

Riki said she was re­ally ap­pre­cia­tive of the girls’ pa­tience for court time.

‘‘They didn’t lose their want to take the court and im­pressed me by al­ways ask­ing for ways they could im­prove.

‘‘This was a huge learn­ing curve for these young play­ers.’’

The shoot­ing cir­cle con­sisted of Myarnee Kingi, Am­ber Brown and Bon­nie TeMiha.

Riki said none of the girls had played to­gether be­fore but moulded as a unit quite eas­ily.

‘‘ The three of­fered dif­fer­ent dy­nam­ics to the game.

‘‘Myarnee by a strong po­si­tional hold to cre­ate space, Am­ber by a near per­fect shoot­ing tech­nique and lift­ing her work rate to ro­tate the cir­cle and Bon­nie by us­ing her de­fen­sive skills to gain some bril­liant re­bounds and abil­ity to of­fer el­e­va­tion for cir­cle ball.’’

Strong side: Toko­roa’s U17 net­ball side per­formed ex­cep­tion­ally well at na­tional level.

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