Fiji netball hopes for Pacific comp in lieu of cancelled World Cup

The Fiji Netball Association is hoping a netball competition between Pacific nations could be on the cards, after the World Youth Cup was cancelled last week.

The Under 21 Championship was originally scheduled for June in Suva, with Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and the Cook Islands set to represent the Pacific, but was postponed by six months because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

President, RubyAnn Sorovaki, said she understood why the International Netball Federation decided to cancel the event, but now their focus needs to be on keeping players engaged.

"Whilst we're disappointed, we respect the decision and understand why it was made. It's such a complex and difficult decision to be made, but it had to be made in the interest of everyone and of course with a safety first approach," she said.

"We just came out of a sports conference run by our Fiji National Sports Commission on the weekend and there was some discussion about hosting regional meets. Given the Covid numbers [in the Pacific] are not as high, I think it would just come down to the logistics of things and how that would work with quarantine [etc.]."

Sorovaki said this would give the regional countries something to work towards.

"That might give us the opportunity and a goal to keep up with our training programmes, and to continue with these squads.

"It's definitely a good thing to consider, but there has to be a lot of discussions first and we probably have to go back to Oceania Netball and talk about that now given this World Youth Cup isn't going head."

In the meantime, Sorovaki said Fiji would look at boosting their local age grade netball competitions.

"I think what this cancellation will do will allow us to work on pathways and get age-grade competitions executed here. We have quite a gap in terms of structured age grade competitions, and I think that's probably our next step, to establish opportunities not just for our under 21 athletes, but for our high performance squads as well.

"We have a plan to build good teams, high performance teams, and probably now it's an opportunity to work on that strategy and to continue building them. It's all the more reason to keep the ball rolling so it doesn't die out in terms of competition. The girls are wanting to play at a competitive level, so there's no time like the present.

Meanwhile the Fiji Pearls were still looking forward to the Nations Cup scheduled to be played in Singapore this December, another opportunity for the under 21 players to work towards, Sorovaki added.

"Whilst they're disappointed, a lot of the girls can keep building and playing and ultimately the Fiji Pearls team is there for them to strive towards."

"Hopefully tournaments will be held in the next year or so and we'll be ready."