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Black Pearls world-ranked again

Friday March 09, 2018 Written by Published in Netball
The Black Pearls have returned to the International Netball Federation's world rankings. The Black Pearls have returned to the International Netball Federation's world rankings.

The Cook Islands netball team has finally managed to break back into the International Netball Federation (INF) rankings to become the third best in the Pacific region.

The Black Pearls are now ranked 17th in the world following their clean sweep win at the Mission Foods Nations Cup in Singapore last year.

Cook Islands is now ranked behind Fiji (12) and Samoa (15) and is a spot ahead of Papua New Guinea in the region.

The Dale Atkinson-coached side was ranked based on the 11 matches it played. The side amassed 641 points and managed a rating of 71.

Australia remains the top-ranked team in the world, followed by New Zealand in second place and England in third.

Netball Cook Islands president PJ Hockin said they were thrilled with the rankings and hoped it would inspire the team to do better in upcoming events.

After the success of the Singapore Nations Cup in December, she said the Black Pearls are eagerly toning up for their next mission – making top two at the Oceania Qualifiers to the World Netball Championships in Liverpool, 2019.

The qualifiers, which will be held in Papakura, New Zealand from April 17 to 21, will be played between Fiji, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Tonga and the Cook Islands. Entry is simply a gold-coin donation.

“This year’s event is being coordinated by Netball Cook Islands and backed by generous sponsorship and support from CEO David Hopkins of Highwire Charitable Trust,” Hockin said.

“On top of playing host to our national team, HWCT is covering a majority of the costs to run the event, which includes the hireage of the competition venue plus accommodation and meals for the event personnel. All this is provided for onsite at the HWCT Arena and the education complex.

“HWCT is also providing accommodation, meals and transport for all competing teams to help secure their participation.”

Hockin said the qualifiers are considered an opportunity to provide inspiration for Maori and Pacific children of South Auckland, namely those schools who are currently supported by HWCT.

She said each school will adopt a Pacific nation to support during the week and sing their national anthem for the opening games.

“The national squad for the qualifiers will be joined by the Rarotonga-based Luciana Nicholas, Alanna Smith, Daimzel Rongokea, Anania Piri and Marjorie Toru for a full camp this weekend at the Papakura facilities,” Hockin said.

“Efforts to hold a camp locally have been far outweighed by the sponsorship support of HWCT and the opportunity to provide stronger game time and specific positional coaching with Silver Fern and Northern Stars players who are employed by HWCT. This was a major boost and bonus for our girls going into the Nations Cup last year.”

            - Rashneel Kumar

INF Top 10: Australia, New Zealand, England, Jamaica, South Africa, Malawi, Uganda, North Ireland, Scotland, Wales.