Pictured: Team Cook Islands. Photo Credit: Paul Foxall
This year, a team from the Cook Islands entered the VICTOR Oceania Open Mixed Team Championships for the very first time.
Their entry is testament to the collaboration between Badminton Oceania and Badminton Cook Islands over player development initiatives and coach development opportunities which helped them reach this milestone. Significant steps in their journey to date include:
- BWF-WAoS PPP (Player Performance Pathway) workshop 2015 Cook Islands attended and developed a pathway plans for young players beginning at Shuttle Time
- CIBA were committed in sticking to their plan & progressing their players through at the appropriate level rather than being diverted into entering Pacific Games or Oceania Championships before they were ready
- 2016 Cooks first experience at AIMS Games (school multisport event for intermediate aged pupil 10-13yrs) held in Tauranga, NZ
- 2017 AIMS Games involved athletes from Cook Islands & Tonga who are here competing in the open division
- 2019 – Tereapii first tasted success at AIMS Games
- Several player development camps delivered to players from the Cook Islands over the years, in-country or part of a Pacific Development Programme
- Almost the entire Cooks team competing this week has come through the BOC Player Development programme
With the Open Mixed Team tournament starting today, Cook Islands opened their campaign against the Pacific giants, Tahiti, who were crowned Champions at the Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games 2022 eight months ago.
Emanuela Mataio and Tereapii Akavi held their nerve in the mixed doubles tie, which opened proceedings, pulling through in two incredibly close games. Followed by a women’s singles win (by Te Pa O Te Te Rangi Tupa), taking Tahiti by surprise with a 2-0 lead. While Glen Lefoll took the following men’s singles, the Cook Islands retaliated with a women’s doubles win to guarantee an overall victory.
“We brought a really positive mindset. Believe in yourself, it’s all in Gods timing. I was relaxed on court for singles, I’d already played my opponent before & won so I had a really positive mindset”, says Te Pa Tupa (player)
“I was pretty scared beforehand, too much nerves. I’m tired. Our number one goal was to beat Tahiti, that’s it. We did it with communication, teamwork, and an aggressive attitude. Going out first in mixed, it was up to us to get it started and take the first win, a few times we were under pressure, but we kept believing. I had a good banana breakfast this morning, early dinner last night & good rest. Teamwork makes the dreamwork”, says Tereapii Akavi (player)
“It’s our first ever open tie – it’s huge. It’s definitely satisfying, to put in all this work over the years and see it finally pay off. When you think back to where we came from, we never could have thought we’d get to here. Now everyone in our country can see that our hard work is finally producing results. I hope we are an example to other countries. It’s been hard & it’s been a lot of work. Thanks to Oceania for pushing us & helping us, if it wasn’t for the team at Oceania we wouldn’t be here, we feel so lucky”, says Thomas Mereana-Ngauru (Badminton Cook Islands President)
“It was a tough match against Tahiti, I was really nervous at the start, I really happy we got up to win the first game, I’m so happy with our performance and that we were able to win”, says Emanuela Mataio (player)
ALL REUSLTS FROM DAY ONE – OPEN MIXED TEAM
Check out all of the first day results from the VICTOR Oceania Open Mixed Team Championships 2023 on Tournament Software.
The penultimate day of the Championships begins at 10am tomorrow (local time, GMT+13). Watch all the action from courts one and two on the live stream, via Badminton Oceania’s YouTube Channel.