The National, Thursday June 20th, 2013
By KYMLIE KARANI
THE search is on. The Pepes want taller, bigger players to make a real impact on the world stage.
Papua New Guinea Netball Federation president Julienne Leka-Maliaki stressed height and size would be key factors in qualifying for the 2015 World Championships in Sydney, Australia.
Leka-Maliaki said qualification for the second best Pacific Island side for the 2015 World Championships must come with hard work.
“Height was a telling factor at the recent Pacific Netball Series (PNS) in Samoa,” she said.
“Our height advantage in the shooting ring was a bonus for us and through our talent identification programme, we are working on filling in all departments with height and size, in preparation towards the 2014 PNS,” Lea-Maliaki said.
Riding off the Pacific MMI Pepes historic achievement recently in Samoa where they finished second behind Fiji, Netball PNG has set their sights on maintaining that momentum but that will come with sweat and hard work.
Leka-Maliaki said the PMMI Pepes would have to finish first or second next year in the Cook Islands to qualify for the world tournament.
But she is bubbling with confidence, saying following their recent performance, she believed they could do it.
“The Pepes have set a good benchmark from their recent tournament and there is hope that we can be able to accomplish that,” Leka-Maliaki said.
“Just like any other Pacific nation, we would like to make it to the World Netball Championships, now is a good opportunity for PNG to have a feel of this international meet.
The last time PNG took part at this championship was in 1992 in New Zealand where the Pepes finished 26th on the world ranking.
The 2014 PNS in Cook Islands will be the qualifiers for the 2015 World Netball Championships in Sydney.
Leka-Maliaki said the federation was working hard at harnessing its players so they could send the strongest team to next year’s PNS.
“There is still a lot of improvement to be done. Certainly there is potential but a lot of hard work ahead. We need to get our feet back on the ground,” she said.
“Obviously, Cook Islands, Samoa and Fiji will be sending stronger teams and we must make sure that we are well prepared for them.
“It is purely hard work that will give good results.”
Leka-Maliaki thanked naming rights sponsor Pacific MMI for their continued support.