julianne-maliaki

Netball titles tip off

Sports

SENIOR Pepes players Lua Rikis, Winnie Mavara and Kilala Owen will be backing up for the Port Moresby Netball Association’s A Grade team at the National Gaming Control Board Open Division National Netball Championship taking place over the Independence anniversary weekend at the Rita Flynn Complex.
The championships start today.
Papua New Guinea Netball Federation president Julienne Leka-Maliaki said the capital city teams were expected to dominate but added that it was an opportunity for associations to gauge themselves against POMNA.
“Port Moresby is a stronghold for netball in the country,” Leka-Maliaki said.
“They’ve basically got the Pepes line-up and will be very strong but that shouldn’t discourage the other teams.
“They should see this as an opportunity to test themselves, to rise to the occasion and see where they are.”
Leka-Maliaki, pictured, said the tournament was a great opportunity for talent identification and the federation was looking to pencil-in the next batch of representative players for the future.
“We’re looking to identify talent along specific criteria such as skills, athletic ability, fitness, height — attributes we want to develop in the Pepes,” she said.
Fresh from their Nations Cup campaign in Singapore, the Pepes contingent in the POMNA A grade team include Marie Ottio, Rayleen Andrew and Shanna Dringo.
The country’s leading netball association is now the overwhelming favourites to claim titles in the A and B grade divisions, with high calibre of players at their disposal.
The performance of the Pepes is a clear indication of the improvements being made by the national team under head coach Unaisi Rokoura, who also guided the Pepes to their first gold medal playoff during the Pacific Games last year.
This year’s senior national titles is an important event for players as they get a chance to be considered for selection and be part of  the Pepes two-year high performance programme.
The goal of the programme is to prepare the Pepes for the qualification rounds of the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Alotau are the defending A Grade champions.
Lae will provide Port Moresby with its biggest challenge, with the Morobe women expected to field former Pepes shooter Nettie Sau and current mid-courter Nerrie Adula.

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