by Huxley Lovai
One of the nation’s young rising sports stars, netball prodigy Jeperth Tulapi, has shown skill and tactical abilities well beyond her years.
The 17-year-old made her debut for the national team, the Pepes in 2013 when she was 15.
“I’ve learnt a lot, the first time I went into the senior team I was so confused, it takes time for you to become someone who is comfortable at that level. I learnt a lot from the senior players and it has helped me grow as an elite athlete,” Tulapi said
Since then she has won a silver medal as a member of the history-making Pepes during the 2015 Pacific Games in Port Moresby. She has featured regularly for the national side, most recently during the Water Aid Invitational played in Port Moresby in March.
Tulapi’s father is from the Southern Highlands while her mother is from Central and Gulf. Her passion for netball was nurtured at an early age by her mother who was a netball player herself.
“My mum has seven sisters who play netball, my mother had a dream of becoming a Pepe. Unfortunately she was unable to achieve that dream.”
“I started playing when I was five years old, I didn’t play in Port Moresby. I was playing in the Motu-Koita South Netball Association, it was called Lakatoi before.
“Because I was five years old, I played U-10 netball for another five years. I was also playing in the town competition for Aroma Coast.”
Given her age Tulapi is still eligible to play for the Under-21 national team, and has recently been selected for the train-on squad. The U-21 PNG team will be travelling to New Zealand in September to take part in regional qualifiers for the Netball World Youth Cup in Botswana next year.
Tulapi’s abilities and experience will be invaluable to the U-21 team as she has had game time at the senior level.
“For me playing for U-21 team is more about sharing my experience with my team mates because I’ve played with the Pepes, showing them what to do and what not to do, giving them encouragement. I’m hoping that my experience will rub off on them.”
Playing in the goal attack position for the Mermaids club in the Port Moresby Netball Association’s premier division, Tulapi has been in spectacular form. She has been contributing to her team’s success as they are top of the table going into the preliminary finals.
“The performance of the club has been really good, credit to the girls,” Tulapi said.
“We’ve been training hard and we also have a few girls who are in the Pepes train-on and current squad in the team. “We play a structured game, building on what we have learned from the Pepes.
“To play the game the way it’s supposed to be played, we have to stick to that format.”
She said that would be better for her team to play competitively.
by Huxley Lovai