Losa Fifita is learning that life is a balancing act.
This year, the former North Otago netballer has been juggling being in the Southern Steel environment, club and representative netball, studying at the Southern Institute of Technology, and a casual job.
Fifita (18) was named as a Southern Steel training partner, alongside Kiana Pelasio and Ivari Christie, for the ANZ Premiership team’s 2022 season. But since her contract came to an end in mid-March, the defender has been called into training and the match-day squad several times, as players have battled with Covid-19.
‘‘I guess it was an opportunity for me to step up and come back into that environment, as the girls were still on return to play with Covid,’’ Fifita said.
‘‘It was a good opportunity for me to get out on court and get some court time.’’
Fifita made her debut on April 2, against the Mystics, behind closed doors in Auckland.
One month later, she started at goal defence, lining up against Silver Fern Te Paea Selby-Rickit, in the Steel’s 63-52 loss to the Tactix.
She tried to absorb her surroundings, in front of a raucous crowd at Stadium Southland, focusing on being in the moment and enjoying the game.
‘‘Definitely exciting but I was very nervous. I just got out there and tried to do what we trained that we were going to do, and stick to the structures.
‘‘It was really cool.’’
It had been an enjoyable experience for Fifita, working alongside players she grew up watching, and learning from them.
‘‘Heaps of them are in that [Silver] Ferns environment as well, all the knowledge that they have, and just trying and learn from them as well as Reinga [Bloxham], the coach.’’
She has also been part of the Southern Blast squad this season, in the National Netball League, which sits directly below the ANZ Premiership, serving as a pathway to the elite level.
Fifita has been following in the footsteps of her older sister, Taneisha, who starred at goal keep for the Steel for two seasons, before announcing she would be taking a break from professional netball to fulfil her lifelong dream of completing her mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Away from the Steel, Fifita, whose family moved to Invercargill in 2020 when Taneisha signed with the Steel, is playing club netball for Rata, and is part of the Invercargill under-18 team heading to nationals in July. She is also studying a one-year human resources diploma.
Next year she will take a break from netball, planning to also complete a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The 18-month mission was exciting and she was looking forward to it.
Taneisha will leave for her mission in Brisbane next month.
Losa was yet to find out where she would be sent.
‘‘That’s why I’m so happy with getting called into the Steel now. I can leave knowing my name’s kind of out there.
‘‘When I come back, I still want to continue with netball.’’
She said she was grateful to her family, God, and the support of the Invercargill and Oamaru communities.