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Pepes U21 Team nearing Oceania Qualifier

The Pepe's Under-21 team has about three months left to prepare for the Oceania Youth Netball Qualifier in September 2024, which will be held in Rarotonga, Cook Islands.

The team started their preparation journey in 2022 by scouting girls from local competitions and the National Championship. After critical phases, they formed a train-on squad.

They have since undergone high-performance testing, intense training sessions, lead-up games, and significant training camps (two in PNG and one in Australia). During this important process, the management further narrowed down the team.

Head coach, Oti Lasagavibau, said they had been reducing the squad as they went over the past two years and have now minimised the number to 17 players for this year, 2024.

Meanwhile, they have begun their training and will continue to maintain their essential routines or sessions.

"We started training this week, marking our first week of training. We will continue as we have approximately 15 weeks of training to ensure the girls are at their best," explained Ms. Lasagavibau.

Lasagavibau said their training sessions primarily focused on core aspects of the game that needed to be emphasised in the remaining months. This is a crucial stage as the team is working extra hard to refine and sharpen the players' skills.

With the weight on their shoulders, the 17-player team is composed mostly of raw talents and will be joined by a few experienced Australia-based players, who are also part of the squad.

Pepes management worked closely with these overseas players, supervising and monitoring their progress, as done to the PNG-based players.

The head coach stated that they wanted to ensure the girls were performing at their best and that they must select the strongest team to represent the country.

From now until September, the team will have lead-up matches, including the most significant one scheduled in August in Australia. After this crucial event, a final 15-girl team will be announced to make the national team for the qualifier in the Cook Islands.

The coach expressed confidence in the inexperienced players and the debutants, stating that they had the best combination and team spirit to compete well in the tournament.

Coach Lasagavibau mentioned that they had venue issues, which was their main challenge, but they had been consistent with their training sessions in preparation for the upcoming qualifier in the Cook Islands.

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