Saviour Tui has a permanent grin throughout our 15 minute chat at St Mary’s College this week.
Little changes when she is on the court.
"She’s quite innocent on court and does everything with a smile. There’s always a smile on her face, no matter how intense the game is, she just pulls out the smile," says Netball Central Performance Manager and Beko Head Coach Pelesa Semu.
At 1.89m and year 12 at St Mary’s College, Saviour joined the Central Beko team for the first time this season and has become a regular starter in the shooting circle. Playing goal attack for the Central side, Saviour has played all five of Central’s matches so far and is shooting at over 88 percent, which includes netting 30 from 31 against the Marvels in round four.
Semu says little fazes Saviour. “She just shows great confidence on court and that’s probably reflective of the way she’s shooting.”
“She’s doing everything a coach wants in a shooter, just quite confident, looking to the post, really accurate and her shooting volume is pretty consistent. She’s in-form and playing pretty well at the moment.’’
She is one of a group of promising school-aged players in the Central Beko and Pulse squads, including her schoolmates, defender Renee Savai’inaea and midcourt Ainsleyana Puleiata (currently injured), and Wellington East Girls’ College shooter Tiana Metuarau and Paris Lokotui (Queen Margaret College) – who she shares the same birthday with.
Behind Saviour’s friendly persona is a steely work ethic and a desire to succeed.
“We started training in the mornings from 6am-7am, so I get up at 4.55am and catch the bus in to town for that, she says. “You get used to it and I enjoy it. I was really happy making the Beko team, the strength and conditioning programme has helped me a lot,” she adds.
Saviour was brought up in and lives in Wainuiomata, and morning and afternoon trainings are at the ASB centre in Kilbirnie.
“Saviour is one of those young players you just love to coach because she’s committed to the programme, wants to do well, always learning, always asking and nothing gets too big for her. She just takes it on the chin and keeps going,” adds Semu.
Her parents are right behind her. It was Saviour’s mother that introduced her to netball. “I think I started playing when I was about eight,” she beams. “My mum got me into playing and she has continued supporting me through all my games."
This carried through to representative teams she started making at a young age, and most recently to the Wellington U17 team she was part of last year that won the national title.
“Being part of that Wellington U17 team last year was one of my favourite moments - not just winning but we had a strong bond and got on really well.”
The Wellington team successfully defended the Anna Rowberry Cup, beating Auckland 34-25 in the final. Saviour, Paris, Ana and Renee all made the U17 tournament team.
She points to her netball friends as helping her succeed as well. “I admire my teammates, my coaches and everyone who supports me in my netball as well.”
Saviour is the only one of her siblings playing competitive sport. “I have a younger sister at St Mary’s College who doesn’t play sport and my older brother at St Bernard’s College is smart and doesn’t really either.”
She has always been an attacker. “I enjoy goal shoot and goal attack equally, and play goal shoot for school and goal attack for Beko.”
This is her third year in the St Mary’s College team, who hope to qualify for the National Secondary School Championships again. St Mary’s finished sixth in 2016 in Lower Hutt and seventh last year in Rotorua. Saviour made the tournament team both years.
She is a current member of the NZSS wider squad, from which he final squad will be selected to play matches against the Australian U17s in Canberra in September.
St Mary’s College are currently national rugby and basketball champions. Saviour says that the success of all the sporting students helps motivate others to do better and reach for the top.
Beko Netball Round 6:
Central versus Waikato Bay of Plenty
TSB Arena, Wellingon
Sunday 17 June, 2.10pm.
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