U21s bank on star five

Normal, Sports

The National, Wednesday July 31st, 2013


PNG Under-21 netballers Marypaul Buehler, Margaret Eka, Nerrie Adula, Tau Galewa and Rayleen Andrew loom as crucial picks for the World Youth Netball Championships.

All five have made Pepes teams over the last 12 months and bring talent and experience to the squad. 

The final 12-member team to the championship in Glasgow, Scotland from Aug 22-31 is yet to be named.

The U21 train-on squad had a trial match with the Pepes a week ago.

However, there is hope in the team that whatever the make-up of the Glasgow squad it will be well-prepared and give PNG every chance of victory.

Eka, Buehler and Galewa were part of the Pepes impressive performance at month’s Pacific Series in Apia, Samoa, where PNG finished a creditable second behind Fiji.

The Pepes managed wins over Cook Islands and Samoa with a side missing several first choice players. 

Shooter Buehler, who was a late replacement for Apia, acquainted herself well with the senior team’s set- and up has gone from strength to strength since making the U21 squad earlier in the year. 

Eka has also earned a reputation as a tenacious defender in the Port Moresby premier competition.

Andrew, who had a stint in the Brisbane netball competition this year, is also one of the more seasoned U21s having been part of last year’s Pepe team to Fiji.

Most of the girls, in the train-on squad have proven to be some of the fittest athletes any sport could have.

This was confirmed during a recent Yoyo test (fitness test) where half the team scored above 16.

PNG Netball president Julienne Leka-Maliaki said the federation would be banking on the experiences of the five girls, who had shown so much potential over the past few months of preparations, to boost the team.

“We have a good mix of players in youth and experience and we are excited and looking forward to good results,” Maliaki said.

The long wait for the final 12 is due to the fact that there is serious competition amongst the women and selectors have had to continuously assessed players.

Shooter Jephat Tulapi has also been a standout in the POMNA.

Tulapi, at only 14 years of age, from Gulf and Southern Highlands, has been identified as an upcoming PNG shooter who plays with passion and aggression despite her young age.

She currently plays for the Sparrows alongside Eka and Adula in the Port Moresby competition. 

Despite her lack of experience, Tulapi has shown maturity beyond her years and is destined to be a staple part of several U21 sides.

While they wait for their final call, it will be tough for the selectors to select the top midcourters to bolster the team.

The midcourt comprises of nifty Kimberly Alex, Shannah Dringo, speedster Villie Nopiri (Port Moresby), Adula (Lae), Winnifred Parker (Brisbane), Edea Gamu (Kairuku-Hiri).

The train-on squad: Shooters – Kapa Mailia, Marypaul Beuhler, Paruru Vaieke, Rayleen Andrew, Jephet Tulapi. Defenders – Margaret Eka, Tau Galewa, Courtney Abel, Aiva Suave. Mid-court – Nerrie Adula, Shannah Dringo, Kimberly Alex, Edea Gamu, Winnifred Parker.