By HUXLEY LOVAI
CAPTAIN of the PNG Under-21 netball team Courtney Abel is ready to lead her team at the Youth World Cup qualifiers in Auckland, New Zealand, as they set out on their quest to secure a place at next year’s event.
Having already played for the senior team, the Pepes, 20-year-old Abel has taken the captaincy of the team in her stride.
She retains her captaincy having first been given the responsibility during the three-match series against the Singapore U21s in July.
“Honestly, I felt like I didn’t deserve it, because I have not made an effort to get back into the Pepes, so I was a bit surprised,” Abel said.
“As a captain, what I learned in that Singapore series was that it was important for me to uphold standards, hold strong and lift the players on court.”
Able told The National that the extra responsibility of the captaincy had changed the way she approached the game. She said she learned a lot from senior players such as Pepes captain Lua Rikis, Winnie Mavara and Kilala Owen, in the way they conducted themselves on and off court.
But the daughter of Alotau MP Charles Abel said she needed to forge her own path as a leader.
“In the senior team, we have several great leaders in Lua, Winnie and Kilala. When I first started playing in the senior team, I thought I had to be like them.
“So when they were quiet, I needed to be quiet, and to always be serious.
“It just made me crawl into a shell, and not being myself made me nervous on court.
“So I learned to just be myself and that helped,”Abel said
This has allowed the talented Abel to play her natural game, with her form impressing selectors, culminating with her being awarded the captaincy.
“As a captain you have to be more understanding and think of the team and to communicate with them so they are able to do their best on the court.
“Every individual contributes something to the team and the captain’s job is to help things work by leading the side.”
The team leaves for New Zealand today for the Oceania regional qualifying tournament from Sept 26-29.
The finalists of the tournament qualify for the World Youth Cup in Botswana next year.
By HUXLEY LOVAI