The Beko Netball League is the development competition running alongside the ANZ Premiership. The league consists of 31 games run over 13 weekends, culminating in a Grand Final in Auckland on 18 June.
A number of secondary school netballers are involved in one of the six teams and College Sport Media is profiling some of these players.
Danielle Tafili is one of four secondary school players in this year’s 16-strong Netball Central squad. Central qualified top for the Grand Final with two matches to spare. She has been training hard with the squad since the start of the year, while she’s also talented volleyball player and made the tournament team at the 2016 NZSS tournament.
Name: Danielle Tafili
Beko Netball League Team: Central
School: Sacred Heart College, Lower Hutt
What positions do you play?
Goal Keep / Goal Defence
At what age, and how did you become involved in netball?
I became involved in netball when I was 5. My mum encouraged me to play. She also volunteered to coach my school team as there was no coach at the time. She coached me throughout my primary and intermediate days as our school went from years 1-8.
What are your earliest memories of playing and what is your playing background?
My earliest memories of playing netball were in primary/intermediate where I grew up playing alongside Renee Savaiinaea [Beko teammate and St Mary’ College]. We’ve been playing together ever since primary and to this very day which I find special. We’ve always played in the defence circle together. I remember being invited to PIC training when it was my last year in intermediate, where I also met Tiana Metuarau [Beko/Pulse and WEGC]. However when I was at college I decided to then join the club competition and play for PIC to better my game. Over the past few years I’ve been at PIC I’ve been so lucky to have amazing coaches such as Waimarama Taumaunu who have expanded my knowledge of this game and have always trained me and the girls at a high level. It was a huge step from playing school girls netball into playing club level and realised that it is a much more physical game, which I love.
Favourite on-court netball moment or highlight in your career thus far?
The highlight of my netball career would be making the Aotearoa Maori Secondary Schools team in 2016. This was because ever since then, I grew a passion for netball and realised I wasn’t too bad at after all. After getting named MVP for my team at the inter-national secondary schools tournament really pushed me to train harder so I could make other teams this year such as the Central Beko Team.
What challenges and rewards are there for you training and playing in the Beko League, with and against all the aspiring elite level players?
What I find challenging is trying to balance my school work as well as playing/training for netball as netball probably takes up majority of my time throughout the week, it is very full on. I found that since I’ve been in this Beko team I’ve been so lucky to have trained alongside the Pulse who have helped me with my defensive game giving me advice and tips. Also, playing against them has always been a challenge for me as I would usually be up against Catherine Tuivaiti, Tiana and Te Amorangi. I personally think it’s awesome being a part of this team as we are all supportive of each other and I’m truly grateful for this opportunity.
Will you also be playing for your school team this year and if so what’s coming up with them that you will be playing in and striving for?
Since this is my last year I’ll be playing for school because I’ve never been to the Lower North Islands or Nationals as I’ve been playing club since I was year 10. I’m looking forward to the school experience and playing with my age group. I believe our school team is striving to make Nationals this year as we’ve missed out on previous years at Lower Norths.
Tell us a bit more about your club and competition?
This would be my third/fourth year playing for PIC. Throughout the years I’ve been at PIC I’ve gained so much knowledge about the game (still got a lot to improve on) and honoured to have such amazing coaches with great experience. Every year we always enter in the Super Club Tournament held in Palmerston North. This year would’ve been the fourth year in a row we’ve won this tournament. Our main competition which we are involved in is the Netball Wellington Centre competitions, which are the games we play on Saturdays.
Who are your favourite netballers?
To be honest I don’t really have a favourite netball player but I would say Katrina Grant and Phoenix Karaka as they’re my favourite defenders in the ANZ competition and also from Pulse who I support 100%.
Do you have a motto or saying you live you or that motivates you?
Family motivates me to play better.
What are your pre-game rituals?
I find this weird but I always have to put on my left shoe before my right. It’s just an automatic thing I do.
What other team/individual sports do you play?
Volleyball has always been a sport I would say I play at a high level. Even though I didn’t make the NZ team I would say I represented Wellington and played for an Oceania Club where they are looking for players to represent their own countries/cultures, for example Samoa, Cook Islands etc. Since I made the Beko team I decided to focus on netball and give up volley until netball season is over. This was a hard decision as I love volleyball just as much as netball.
What subjects do you take at school and do you know what you’ll be doing/studying next year?
I take SUS, English, Maths, Religious Studies, (which is compulsory at our school because I attend a Catholic school) Physical Education and Maori. University hasn’t been on my mind lately but if I was to go I would study criminology as I want to become a Policewoman later on in my career.
Who are your greatest supporters?
A shout-out to my parents who have always backed me in whatever decision I made and who have been my day one supporters since I started netball. Also to my club coaches who have trained me each week especially on fitness and skills which has helped me expand my knowledge about netball. Also to Natalie my Beko coach who has given up her time and moved away from her family just to coach me and the girls so we could succeed this year. Also would like to thank her for giving me this opportunity to be in this team and to even get court time as I had no expectations of me even making the team this year. A big thank you to all the other coaches who have coached me throughout the years I’ve been playing netball and to the players who I have come across to make me a better player!
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