Vugakoto speaks out against dismal Netball World Cup loss

Picture: NWC2019

FORMER national netball rep and goal attack Vasiti Vugakoto is calling for Netball Fiji to go through a reform with new visions and strategies after the Fiji Pearls finished 14th at the Netball World Cup in Liverpool, England, last week.

Fiji lost to Samoa 53-42 in the 13th place play-off last Friday recording its worst finish in the competition.

Fiji’s best placing was sixth at the 1999 World Cup in Christchurch, New Zealand. Vugakoto, who was part of the 1999 team, said Netball Fiji had a lot to learn, especially from new champion New Zealand.

The Silver Ferns, under head coach Noeline Taurua, made a remarkable 11-month turnaround after losing to Jamaica 60-55 in the bronze medal playoff at the 2018 Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast in Australia which is regarded as their worst performance in the competition.

On Sunday, New Zealand upset favourites and defending champion Australia 52-51 in the final to be crowned as champion for the fifth time, their first since 2003 ending the Diamonds dominance.

Vugakoto, a versatile and passionate netballer, said Netball Fiji needed lessons from New Zealand, as their management and leadership change within 11 months earned them victory.

“Fiji Netball needs to change from the top all the way down because we need a new vision and a new strategy,” she said.

“We need to go back to the drawing board and we need to bring in a new mindset. The former players are looking forward to working together and take Netball Fiji forward.”

Fiji lost all pool games and then recorded only two wins from three matches in the preliminary stage two round.

While a lot of concerns has been raised about Fiji’s performance, Netball Fiji president Wainikiti Bogidrau said regardless of the outcome of the tournament, it was only proper that the parent body reviewed what worked and what didn’t work to set the platform for new goals and strategies for the short to medium term.

“Our members have the opportunity to elect new leaders to drive these at the end of this year which is at the expiry of the term of the current executives,” Bogidrau said.

“Whilst we hope to emulate success stories such as the Silver Ferns, we need to be mindful of the different challenges especially in relation to resources inclusive of the depth of our players.”

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