Players attend netball academy

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Lioni Kamilo, left, passes to Akisi Bolakoro during the Fiji Netball Academy training at the National Netball Centre in Suva on Tuesday, Sep 05, 2023. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

A national netball academy featuring girls from around the nation was conducted this week.

Beginning Monday until Saturday each invited member was selected from the National Secondary School Netball competition.

Under-19 academy coach Iliseva Drasuna said the workshop features an extended squad for three days according to their age category.

The U17 girls began their workshop on Monday and will end today.

The U19 girls will conduct their workshop tomorrow until Saturday.

“The final 24 girls will then be selected at the end of the academy trial run,” she said.

“Last year we hosted our first National Netball Academy but with the World Cup, most of our attention was centred on the Pearls.

“Now we have a real opportunity to regroup and train our upcoming team for the 2027 World Cup.”

The academy serves as a platform for netball scouts and coaches to identify elite athletes to play for the Fiji Pearls. It is the beginning of a structured pathway to the national team.

The coaches scout out players from the secondary schools competition, host a trial run at the academy and select the final 24 to train for the national team.

Netball Fiji head coach Una Rokoura informed Times Sport that the workshop is meant to introduce the girls to high performance early on.

“We want to train them while they are still coachable, it allows us to train them holistically,” she said.

“It’s fantastic to get the chance to train girls who are raw, it gives us coaches the chance to mold them on technique and fitness.”

The workshop invited secondary schools from Lautoka, Rakiraki, Vanua Levu and Kadavu.

“Some of the girls have never experienced this style of training and many of them were a little bit intimidated.

After the first session they quickly became comfortable and started to enjoy themselves,” Rokoura said. One such team member is Elenoa Serei from Naileba College.

Serei had travelled all the way from Vanua Levu with her high school teacher Penina Ligaiviu.

“I was excited when Elena was selected so even if the school was not going to sponsor her trip I agreed to take money out of my own pocket to help her,” said Ligaiviu and this was exactly what she did.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for her and even if she does not get through to the final selection, I’m glad she was able to come and experience all of this.”

Serei’s favourite part about the workshop is the ball handling skill training and defensive drills.

Rokoura extended her appreciation towards the family and friends who helped the girls travel from all over to make it for the workshop.