Prime Minster bids farewell to Netball World Cup team
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi has bid farewell to Samoa's 2019 Netball World Cup squad, who are travelling to England for the sport's major international event.
Giving the keynote address at a lunch event on Saturday, the Prime Minister relayed his best wishes to the team and wished them well.
"On behalf of us, I want to convey our very special congratulations to our netball team who will be leaving over the next 24 hours to compete overseas in the major tournament where Samoa is also participating," he said.
He said the women also wanted to be part of Samoa's Pacific Games netball team, but were unable to meet the criteria of the amount of residency years in Samoa, as required under the Games bylaws.
Nevertheless he acknowledged the effort of the netball players to be flag bearers for Samoa in the 2019 Netball World Cup in England.
"You see Samoa has always had a very limited player pool, in just about every sport but we continue to participate and punch above our weight, and it is an honor of this team that it is going to leave us to be our flag carrier overseas competing for Samoa.
"We wish you well in your championship game," he said.
As part of its preparations for the 2019 Netball World Cup, the Samoan team played the Pacific Games team in an exhibition match to defeat it 45-55 last Friday night.
The exhibition match marked the first ever sports fixture at the new Multi-Sport Complex in Tuana'imato where the World Cup team led the match from start to finish.
Samoa's World Cup team is coached by Frances Solia and she credited the Pacific Games team for not allowing them to play to their potential, which serves as an important lesson as the World Cup side won't always have everything their way.
“Had we not done this, we’d be going in, I think, to Liverpool with a bit of false [confidence]."
The Samoa World Cup team has a practice match against Singapore on July 10, before their World Cup opener against Scotland on July 12 (July 13 Samoan time)
Solia said it was better having that wake-up call now than closer to the tournament, and added they want to beat Samoa's 2015 World Cup ranking of 10th.
“I think we’ve got a good enough team to really challenge for top eight so that’s the goal."
Solia said the team has been training really hard to make it happen.
"It’s taken us 17 months to get fitness right, on point."
The 2019 Netball World Cup will be the 15th premier competition in international netball that is contested every four years. The tournament will be held from July 12–21 at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool, England.