The pride of North Otago netball has hit another major milestone in her blossoming career.
Waitaki Girls’ High School year 12 pupil Taneisha Fifita has been named in the New Zealand secondary schools squad for a tour of Australia.
The Oamaru superstar is the only player in the squad from south of Waitaki, and one of just two from the entire South Island.
It is, in short, a very big deal, and no wonder people are talking about Fifita as one of the most exciting players in the history of North Otago netball.
Fifita (17) likes nothing less than bragging about her own achievements, but the smile that erupted when asked how she felt to make the New Zealand schools squad spoke volumes.
“It means a lot to me,” she told the Oamaru Mail
“It’s really exciting. A lot of people have worked hard for me – not just my family but the school and the whole community – and it’s paid off.”
Fifita will assemble in Auckland with the rest of the 14-strong schools squad on Saturday, before heading to a camp at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra next week.
The camp will include intensive training and fitness sessions as well as games against Australian and English youth teams.
Fifita knows a handful of players in the New Zealand squad, and tasted netball in Australia with Waitaki Girls’ last year.
It has already been an extremely exciting year for the towering defender or shooter.
She accompanied the Southern Steel as a training partner and unexpectedly got on court for two games for the back-to-back ANZ Premiership champion.
A thrill was claiming the final intercept to seal a 53-52 win over the Tactix, although Fifita had to be content with watching the grand final on television.
She played for Netball South in the Beko League for a second season, and later joined the Steel at the season-ending Super Club tournament.
Alongside all those commitments, Fifita joined her younger sisters, Losa and Maikale, in the Waitaki Girls’ senior team for a successful season.
Netball never really ends – Fifita is back at Netball South trials next month, hoping to again be picked as a training partner for the Steel – but she will not rest until she achieves the ultimate goal, a Silver Ferns bib.
She has had to work hard to fit in her school commitments, and thanked her Waitaki Girls’ teachers for helping.
She has had to show her versatility, appearing at both ends of the netball court.
A shooter at school, she has been groomed as a defender at the higher levels, and has not grumbled about giving up the “glamour girl” position of goal shoot.
“You still kind of get to do some exciting stuff when you’re on defence, ha ha.
“If you get a good intercept, it can feel really good.”