Netball’s dismal campaign

Picture: NWC2019

It was good to see the Fiji Pearls finally scoring their first win at the Netball World Cup in Liverpool, England.

We defeated Singapore 71-56.

While there would have been many players to praise, the highest accolades would have to go to Lydia Panapasa, 18, who scored 41 from 43 goals with a 96 per cent shooting accuracy rate despite playing only 39 minutes of the 60-minute game.

National coach Vicki Wilson was excited because the win allowed Fiji to be equal on points with Sri Lanka and Samoa in Group E.

Panapasa scored six goals within three minutes of the first centre pass and added 11 more before the end of the first quarter to record a 100 per cent rate of accuracy.

Matila Vocea replaced Panapasa in the second quarter and scored nine goals for an 82 per cent shooting accuracy.

Aside from that victory though, we have not been impressive at all at this World Cup.

We succumbed 29-85 to Jamaica in our opening game, losing all quarters, 8-19, 6-21, 4-27 and 11-18.

We lost our second game to South Africa 35-90, again losing all quarters 9-24, 10-23, 6-20 and 10-23.

We then lost to Trinidad and Tobago 56-67, but this time, we won the final quarter 16-10, after having lost the first three 10-23, 15-17 and 15-17.

We succumbed to Samoa in the playoffs 54-55, again winning one quarter 12-7.

We lost three 16-18, 14-15 and 12-15.

The match was obviously tight.

We then found our rhythm against Singapore, winning that match 71-56.

We won the first quarter 22-12, lost the second 13-14, and won the last two 17-14 and 19-16.

We are now scheduled to play Sri Lanka.

The campaign hasn’t been impressive so far.

Questions will no doubt be raised about our preparations, the quality and standard of our squad, commitment and enthusiasm.

What went wrong? While we may be inclined to downplay this result, the bottom line remains this is our national team.

It represents every Fijian and there is a certain level of expectation heaped on members of the team to perform to the highest of international standards.

There can be no doubts about the need now to find out what went wrong and what needs to be done to improve.

No effort must be spared to do that.

If this means a revamp in our domestic competition, priorities at both local and international level, then let’s make things happen. It seems our plans have either not worked, were not up to par, or weren’t followed.

In saying that, we realise we cannot all be winners.

But understandably there would be other factors that would need to be considered in the greater scheme of things, from the time spent in preparation, developmental stages, to funding and exposure.

We must get over this international humiliation at the highest level of the game though, regroup, and plan better, looking to the future with optimism. That should start immediately after this World Cup and probably take into account our hosting of the 2021 World Youth Cup in Suva.

We have tasted the highs before. We know what it feels like when we reach out and savour victory. We know what it takes to get there as well.

Let’s rediscover that element of our game pretty quick though.

What has to be done, must be done!

We wish our Pearls well against Sri Lanka.

Go Fiji, go.

More Stories