Local netballers gearing up for Pacific Nations Cup

The locally-based players in Samoa's netball squad for the Pacific Games are training six days a week ahead of the upcoming Pacific Nations Cup later this month.

Samoa will take on the Cook Islands, Tonga, New Zealand Defence Force, Aotearoa Maori and the Stars of the Southern Cross at the tournament, which will be played from the 21st to the 23rd of March in Papakura, Auckland.

Netball Samoa chief executive officer Rosemarie Esera said it's going to be a really good tournament.

"We'll be using this opportunity to finalise our final team for the Pacific Games.

“Also the weekend before we’ll be having the World Cup trials, so players that are unsuccessful in getting selection there will have the opportunity to trial for the Pacific Games team."

Assistant coach Ruta Schwalger said they've done quite a bit of preparation to get the girls ready for the Pacific Nations Cup.

“I think we’re tracking along nicely.

“There is still a bit of work to go but we’re confident we’ll have everything ironed out by the time the Pacific Games team is selected."

She said because of Samoa's limited population and the many different sports available, it can be a struggle to get elite level competition on the island.

“We’ve had to try and simulate that through training games

“The strength that we have with our players here is that their attitudes are great, they give 100% at every training and are all willing to learn."

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One of those players is 15-year-old Larafine Stowers from Vaiala and Moata'a, who is a student at Samoa College.

“Training is very intense, and has helped a lot since we first started back in June or July," she said.

Stowers has to find a balance between her schoolwork, national squad training, school netball and learning to play the piano.

“It was a bit hard in the beginning, but now it’s ok."

She said being an all-rounder and having extra-curricular activities is important to her.

“Just to try everything out and just see how it goes, see how i do in all areas."

In terms of her game, Stowers said the main strength she brings to the team is her height.

“I jump a lot, they lob me a lot of balls.

“I need to practice more shooting, get my shots up.

“To be more active and get my fitness up."

She said to play in the Pacific Games would mean a lot, especially because of her youth.

But for the same reason, she would be ok with missing out on the final team, assuming she could get another opportunity down the road.

Stowers said either way, the trial process would be good for her development.

“It’s a bit frightening, I’m a bit scared about all the girls trialling because there are so many, but it’s really good."

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