St. Mary's building for the future in Netball League
St. Mary's is preparing to take on the Fagaula Alliance at the Netball Gymnasium Tuanaimato on Saturday as the Netball League A Grade competition heats up.
Ahead of the Game, St. Mary's Management said the team is in good spirits and they are looking forward to the clash. Fitness and getting the combinations to gel are among the things they have been working on.
St. Mary's team is a good mixture of experienced and new players.
"This year after our club trials, the coaches’ selected three young players who are still attending St Mary’s College ages 14 to play in the A Grade team," the coaching staff said in a statement.
"Their performances were exceptional during the trials; as such they were ticked to join the team. So right now the coaches are working on improving combinations to ensure our A team has a good bench to select from if any experienced players got injured. So after the first round last week, there’s a huge improvement in the team’s preparation so far."
The Club's main goal is to push and to develop the young netballers to play their hearts out.
"Our club has a mix of the experienced and the young ones. Historically St. Mary’s sports have always pushed our players to play for the highest grade (A grade). We have always brought up younger players to perform and show their talents in this elite division, although these players are playing in a division with some women 2 to 3 times their age," they said.
"We put them there because we believe they have the ability to compete at this level. We have been doing that for so many years and it really worked for the club.
"Selecting players who played so well during the school netball tournaments then try them out in the A Grade team. That’s why we have a good pool of players to choose from. The club is being proactive by nurturing and training the young girls from the ages 14 plus, in that we do not have a shortage of players.All the players are injury free except one of our experienced player Tamisha who got injured two days ago, but so far preparations are good."
Their teams are not from St Mary's College girls only but from other schools who are interested in playing under the St Mary's Sports Club netball teams.
"Four players selected for the A Grad are still in school, 3 at year 10 and 1 at Year 13, and they all played like adults and aggressive. These are up and coming players for our national team if they maintain their form, fitness, positive attitude and willingness to learn new skills.
"We also have one of our experienced players who have been playing in the A grade since she was 14 have now been selected in the U21 National Netball Squad. Our A grade team, along with all our other teams are made up of girls from all different backgrounds, although most of our players are patriotic St Mary’s students and ex-students.
"This year we are having girls from Robert Louis Stevenson, Pesega College Faatuatua College, Maluafou College, St Peters Channel and other schools."
Every year before a tournament starts, the club always starts their season with a Mass where they invite their parents, SMOGA, teachers at St Mary's College and their loyal supporters. They also shared a fellowship with parents and other players.
"This year we had our Mass last month at the College Hall Vaimoso, and were a good turnout. The Club also believes the strong bond felt within members is the key to most of our victories, our spirit of sisterhood.
"As players and team members, the players know and understand each other on a more personal level – during games and they know when one of the teammates needs that extra boost of confidence or needs that time to settle. It is our strong bond that helps us to always lift each other up even when the game doesn’t go our way.
"This strong bond has been a hallmark of SMOGA since 1960 and subsequently a hallmark of St Mary’s Sports Club. It is passed down through generations of players who pass through our club and we hope to nurture this spirit throughout the years to come," they added.
The shield has been with St Mary's ever since it was introduced, there are only four times that the shield was taken away from St Mary's Club. The Open Grade has a new shield now and St Mary's Sports Club name is there as well.
Their main challenge at the moment is having no netball court to train their athletes and for them to be proactive during registrations.
"For this year, we have so many registered players and trying to form up teams at different levels. We have one U14, 2 Development Grade teams, 1 A Reserve and one Open Grade team. We would like to have 2 A Reserve teams to allow other U18 players to play unfortunately, the teams registrations have closed. So we are hoping after this years tournament the club will be more proactive in registering 2 teams for each lower divisions," they said.
"Another challenge is the absent of our own netball courts. At the moment we are using the Tuanaimato netball courts and having to train 5 teams it is so hard because we can only use one court. We are also thankful to the Samoa Netball Association for allowing us to use the outside courts for our weekly trainings," they added.
The most challenging team they have faced before is SCOPA as they are one of the oldest team however during the ongoing competition they have found out that there are more challenging teams especially with the new ones this year.
"Traditionally SCOPA (mainly because including us, have been the oldest existing clubs) has always been our strongest competition, however, other clubs like Collegiate and United Souls last year have also presented themselves as very strong competitors. This year there are many new clubs with the likes of Fagaula Alliance, Apia East Flames and Marist whom we know are very hungry for the shield.
"We have never underestimated any clubs going into games and we will continue to never underestimate any team as anyone can win on a given day. All we can do is focus on ourselves and try our best to uphold the reputation we have a top competitor also.," they mentioned.
"Having played games against the men’s team during trainings has always pushed the players to play faster, stronger and smarter. The men play at a different pace and level than the girls. So always playing them have our players getting used to their pace and that when they play in the actual tournament with A grade teams, it’s almost as if our players are more prepared. It is also huge advantage training with the men’s team."
St Marys Sports is an alumni of SMOGA. The players are all SMOGANians, we all belong to the main body, and SMOGA is our identity. We changed to St Marys Sports in the late 90’s to accommodate the different players from other schools wanting to join us, and just like Marist Sports Club, they have their main body Marist Old Boys Association, and there is a Marist Sports club that catered for the sports people, hence why we also wanted to change to St Marys Sports Club.
The A-Grade team for St Mary's Sports Club are Vienna Schmidt, Romania Ng Lam Pose, Rylee Schuster (Year 10 student SMC), Tirah Schmidt, Theresa Laban (Year 10 SMC), Rumei Meredith (Year 10 SMC), Tamisha Lei-Sam, Geraldine Taefu, Christina Falaniko (Year 13 SMC), Frances Gaufa and Priscilla Taefu.