|Posted by Near the Hoop on March 10, 2011 at 8:37 AM|
In December 2010, Near the Hoop ran a story on the prospects for two current Pepe's to spend some time in Singapore training and playing with and against the Singapore national team as part of their preparation for the World Championships that Singapore will host later this year.
Happily we report that all the paperwork has been done and the two players leave for Singapore next week on 17th March 2011.
The two players requested for by the Singaporeans and cleared by Netball PNG, are 21 year old midcourt attacker Alurigo Opina and 20 year old Defender, Nisha Omi. Both will be part of a contingent of some six players from the Oceania region and Africa, recruited by the Singapore national team to assist with their preparations for the July World Championships.
Both Alurigo and Nisha will play in Singapore's Super League competition and train with the national side to provide their players with decent opposition in their lead up to July 2011. It will be as much an eye opener for them as it will be for the Singaporeans and provide invaluable outside experience for the pair.
Whilst there, they will be continuously monitored to ensure they keep up their nation selection training programs, as both will be available for selection for the Pacific Netball Series. They will also be ambassadors of the sport and the country and acccordingly they will be expected to carry themselves with the highest level of discipline and pride.
(above left) Nisha Omi seen here in her playing for the Mermaids in POMNA premier
division and Alurigo Opina (above right) who plays mid court for the POMNA club, the Sparrows.
When asked, both sets of parents spoke with pride of their daughters achievements and understandably were a little worried at the same time, as this would be an assignment in which their children were traveling on their own to a different country and not under the umbrella of a team as they normally would when travelling with the Pepe's.
Vincent Omi, who works with Telikom in Madang was partcularly philasophical saying that the experience will help round out Nisha's overall profile as a player, adding that Nisha's hard work was now paying off and the sacrifices the family had to endure was bearing fruit in Nisha's achivements in the sport. With seven girls in the family, the Omi's are avid netters like their mother and look to Nisha as their beacon of hope and inspiration but encouraging her in her success despite their own economic circumstance.
Mrs Omi extended her heartfelt gratitude to Pole Kassman and the Kassman family for assisting with Nisha's upkeep whenever she has been required to be in Port Moresby and for supervising Nisha's training programs, that has ensured she remains competitive. "We are a family of netters so it is with the greatest pride that we watch Nisha's success" said Nisha's mother. The family has had to do things tough and appealed to prospective sponsors to consider the special needs of netball talents based outside Port Moresby, especially when it comes the travel of these players as and when they are required to take up representative duties. But the netball madness doesn't end there for the Omi's because it seems another Omi, Miriam, has also been asked to train for qualification and possible selection to the Pepe's squad this year.
Alu Opina, from which young Alurigo Opina obviously takes her name, like Vincent, is well pleased at the success of his only daughter among a brood of boys but looks at this assignment as an important part of Alurigo's career in Netball. "Learn all you can my daughter and bring that knowledge back to do your part in developing netball here" he tells Alurigo, be careful and work hard and remember that what ever you and Nisha do, it will reflect on all netballers from Papua New Guinea.
The Opina's are less fearful of the pairs stay in Singapore, as they are confindent that their old friend, Kate Carpenter, who is now the head coach of the Singapore national side, will remember her time with sport in PNG. She was head coach for the PNG Pepe's in 1997 and 1998 and is a close friend of Margaret Opina, Alu's mother. "Kate is an old friend and we know she will keep an eye out for our girls"
Bios of both players can be seen on Netball PNG's sportingpulse webpage. Simply click on the link to take you there.
Our congratulations go to both players, We wish them a wonderful journey and for their safe return.