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Source / Barry Alsop Photographer Eyes Wide Open Images

The 2024 Pacific Netball Series kicked off in Brisbane this week with teams representing Fiji, Samoa, Singapore, Namibia, an inaugural Australia First Nations side and tournament-favourites, Tonga, in fierce competition for the series title. As fans of Pacific netball would know, the Tonga Tala has won the past three tournaments, a winning streak that propelled them from relative unknowns into 8th place in the international netball rankings.

Tonga’s success is evidence of how exposure to elite-level competition can rapidly accelerate a team’s progress. And it further underscores the value of the work being done by Netball Australia to support the development of high-performance netball across the Pacific.

That work, delivered in partnership with the Australian Government through PacificAus Sports, is now set to be extended for another four years, ensuring the roll-out of more training initiatives, professional-development workshops, competition opportunities and community exchanges for the region’s players, coaches and match officials.

“Netball is the number one participation sport for Australian girls, and is another example of the many passions that Australia and the Pacific share,” says Minister for International Development and the Pacific, the Hon Pat Conroy MP. “The Australian Government is proud to further build on our partnership with Netball Australia through PacificAus Sports, to support the development of high-performance netball throughout the Pacific, and empower the next generation of women and girls to pursue their sporting dreams.”

Source / Barry Alsop Photographer Eyes Wide Open Images
Source / Barry Alsop Photographer Eyes Wide Open Images

Small steps towards big dreams

According to Chief Executive Officer, Stacey West, Netball Australia is excited to be extending the program in the years ahead, and proud of having established strong relationships with Pacific netball communities through their involvement in a wide range of PacificAus Sports initiatives.

“[The initiatives] have had a significant impact across the duration of this partnership, pivotally in this year’s Athlete Immersion program, the First Nations Coaching Workshop in Fiji, and the Pacific Netball Series which is being played this week,” she says.

Many of the women and girls competing in this week’s event have previously participated in player-development programs. One of those is Nina Nakula, who this year makes her first appearance with the senior Fiji team having been captain of the Under-18s team.

“I went through the PacificAus Sports Immersion Program where I learned a lot about my performance,” she told the ABC’s Pacific Beat program. “That has helped me to grow – and now I’ve been selected for my national team.”

A few years back, Samoa’s Sayonara (Nara) Alaalatoa was a participant in a PacificAus Sports Youth Immersion Program. Later that same year she was elevated to the national team, Tifa Moana, and is now representing her country for the third time in the Pacific Netball Series.

“For the players, representing their countries in an international competition really brings a sense of pride and unity to the nation,” Nara says. “It's an opportunity for Pacific nations to rally behind their women's netball teams and just celebrate their achievements on a global stage.”

Source / Barry Alsop Photographer Eyes Wide Open Images

Taking their place as champions

The Pacific Netball Series, and the ongoing high-performance development work, are contributing to the growth of women’s sport across the Pacific.

“We want more women and girls in Australia and the Pacific being inspired to be active and reap the physical and mental health benefits sport provides,” says Minister for Sport, the Hon Anika Wells MP.

Players like Nara are aware of the role they play in encouraging women and girls in their own communities to get involved in sport – and to aim for big goals including representing their country, or playing professionally.

“Just seeing female athletes from their own countries compete at a high level can really serve as a motivation for aspiring athletes to really work hard and pursue their dreams.” she says.

Showcasing culture on the court

This year’s tournament also sees the inaugural appearance of the Australian First Nations team, coached by Kamilaroi woman, Ali Tucker-Munro.  

"It's not just a pivotal moment for our sport. It's a pivotal moment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander netballers across the country,” says Ali, who previously played with the Australian Diamonds and is currently Netball Australia's First Nations engagement lead. "Our talented and emerging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander athletes will now have a wonderful platform in which they can represent their culture, their family, and their communities with pride.”

Bringing culture into the game was a key message in the Our Way – Our Style workshops run by Ali with netball leaders in Fiji earlier in 2024, and is a priority for this year’s Pacific Netball Series.

“Competitions that recognise culture really allow the participants to express themselves authentically. It just really adds more depth and meaning to the event,” says Nara from Tifa Moana. “These types of competitions embrace diversity and foster a sense of pride and unity among spectators and participants alike.”

In the years ahead, the high-performance netball development program will continue to celebrate culture while building strong community ties across the region.  

The 2024 Pacific Netball Series runs in Brisbane from 9-15 June. All matches are free to watch on


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