Steel confirms training partners for 2022 - October 5, 2021
A talented trio of training partners has been recruited by the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel for the 2022 ANZ Premiership season.
Proven shooter Kiana Pelasio, of Dunedin, is joined by rookie defender Losa Fifita, of Invercargill, and midcourt dynamo Ivari Christie, who is venturing south from the Waikato.
Head coach Reinga Bloxham was eager to witness their development progress in the elite environment.
“We want to give these players a chance to really excel and take their netball to a new level,” she said.
She was happy to retain Pelasio, who was a contracted player in 2021.
“I’m really pleased she has taken the opportunity to be a training partner. She has made huge gains in the last two seasons and wants to keep building and learning. She is an awesome team mate and contributes positively on and off the court. She has versatility in her game and positionally and knows what we expect.”
Fifita follows in the footsteps of older sister Taneisha.
“Young and talented best describes Losa. She has certainly stood out this season regardless of whether its playing school, club and representative netball. She has the ability to get gains and needs to be extended in an environment where she can still learn and grow,” Bloxham said.
Christie is a member of the New Zealand Secondary Schools squad whose promise as a netballer saw her awarded a three-year scholarship from the Tania Dalton Foundation last year.
“Ivari came about by another netball friend in Hamilton who brought her to my attention. I want to keep building our middie stock for the future and she had been mentioned as having a promising netball future,” Bloxham said.
“She has a very good work ethic, is self-motivated, organised and prepared to work hard. All the qualities I look for in players.
“She is prepared to move here to help her achieve the next stage in her netball and knows nothing is guaranteed so she will have to stamp her mark on netball down in the South Zone.”
For Christie, the opportunity came out of the blue.
“When I was at school, my coach Kim (Howard) asked if I was to get an ANZ contract somewhere, would I go? And I said yes, of course, not thinking anything of it. Then in lockdown she texted me and I was completely blindsided. It was crazy,” she said.
“I’m super excited. And I’m liking the idea of a fresh start and a new environment to challenge me. As a training partner, you never know when the opportunities are going to come your way and you have to be prepared to step up. I’m going to go with the flow and see where it takes me.
“It’s a massive step up obviously from the level of high school sport but I’m looking forward to getting back into the role of centre/wing attack and get specialist coaching in those positions.”
Although she is predominantly featured at goal attack for Hamilton Girls’ High School this season, Christie aims to specialise in the midcourt roles.
She was relishing her involvement with the Tania Dalton Foundation.
“It’s been amazing. It’s pushed me out of my comfort zone at times. Everyone is doing different things across seven codes and it’s exciting to see them go off and achieve their sporting goals as well.”
Christie hasn’t needed to look far for inspiration. Silver Ferns legend Laura Langman hailing from the Waikato, while her own England heritage adds Roses’ stalwart Serena Guthrie to her list of role models.
“I’ve always wanted to get to the Silver Ferns and play in the ANZ Premiership so that is still the ultimate goal,” she said.
“I was born in England and everyone usually compares my hair with Serena’s. Apart from my brother, I only know two other people with my hair type – it’s pretty unique.”
The Steel squad starts its pre-season campaign later this month.