Second times a charm for Paris Lokotui (QMC)

Lokotui in action for the Central Manawa in the Beko Netball League PHOTO: Fiona Cassidy

By Adam Blackwell

Despite a recent injury scare, 17-year-old Paris Lokotui is fit to play after being selected for the New Zealand Secondary School netball team.

Last year Lokotui was selected for the New Zealand Secondary School team but was unable to play because of an ankle injury.

After once again being named in the New Zealand Secondary School side this year, history threatened to repeat itself when she injured the same ankle playing in the Beko Netball League a couple of weeks ago.

Fortunately, she recovered quickly and had been able to play and train on it since last week and therefore would be able to compete against the England Under 19 team in July.

“To be selected and a part of the NZSS team again is just awesome,” she said.

Lokotui, who predominantly plays goal defence and goal keeper, has been playing for the Queen Margaret College Senior A netball team since year nine, making this her fifth year in the side. It’s not just all netball for Lokotui however, she also plays basketball, water polo, sevens rugby and volleyball.

Lokotui has been able to learn from some of the games best players while playing for the Central Manawa in the Beko Netball League, as well as occasionally training with the Wellington Pulse.

“It has exposed me to what being a professional athlete is,” she said. “To be successful, you must be in a team environment where everyone is for each other and that everyone has their mind focused on the same goal.”

She was also one of 12 young New Zealand sportswomen who were awarded a Tania Dalton Foundation scholarship this year.  The scholarship is in honour of the late Tania Dalton, who made 37 appearances for the Silver Ferns and died suddenly in 2017.

As part of the scholarship, Lokotui was set up with legendary New Zealand goal shoot Irene Van-Dyk as a mentor, who she said she looked up to both on and off the court.

“Not only was she an amazing netball player but she shows attributes such as kindness, respect and gives back to the community which really inspires me.”

Van-Dyk said one of Lokotui’s strengths was her work ethic.  “She does not shy away from hard work.” Lokotui trains at least six days a week, including team trainings, strength and conditioning sessions, and matches.

Van-Dyk said that her hard work showed on the court. “Her ability to read the game is absolutely fantastic. She hunts for the ball, she doesn’t get stuck at goal keeper.”