Linda Junita Kelsall will lead young Samoan team at F.I.B.A. Polynesian Cup

By Thomas Airey ,

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Women’s national team training at NUS. Linda is second from right.

Women’s national team training at NUS. Linda is second from right.

For Samoa women’s basketball captain Linda Junita Kelsall, 20, ball is life.

That’s the motto she and her team will carry into the FIBA Polynesian Cup held at the NUS Gymnasium next week.

Kelsall has played for the national team since she was 14.

“I never miss a tournament,” she said.

“I’m second oldest, the oldest is 21 and our youngest player is only 13.”

The Samoan team will be among the youngest at the Cup next week.

“It’s challenging, but good experience for us playing in the open division,” Kelsall said.

The group has been together five years now, growing though the ranks together.

“I’m confident the girls can do it, we have real potential.

“I’m so proud of them, we’ve had hard trainings working on fitness and ball skills the last few weeks.”

She said the team would run 5-minute sprints early in the morning, as well as daily weight sessions.

“Over the next few days before the tournament we’ll have lighter trainings working on our plays.”

Most of the team are locally based, with four of the 12 coming from Australia and New Zealand.

“It’s so exciting for us to play here in front of our families,” Kelsall said.

“This is a good chance to show Samoa our talents and hard work.

“The more supporters that come to our games, the more energy we’ll get from them.”

The games we be televised locally on TV1, with FIBA streaming them on YouTube as well.

Kelsall said the spotlight is good but it adds pressure.

“No one wants to be running out of breath in front of the whole world.

“But mostly we just can’t wait to play next week.”

Kelsall and her team open the 2018 FIBA Polynesian Cup on Monday against the Cook Islands at 7pm.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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