Te Ahikaa Trotman
The Girls’ Pacific Youth Cup celebrates the growth of Rugby League amongst Māori and Pasifika wahine.
Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air
The Girls’ Pacific Youth Cup kicked off today in Auckland, with Aotearoa, Samoa, Tonga, Niue and the Cook Islands all participating across under 13s and under 15s.
New Zealand Māori Rugby League chairman John Devonshire says it’s all a celebration of the growth of the game among Māori and Pasifika.
“Well, first and foremost, it’s a celebration of kōtiro rugby league, with the NRLW expanding to 10 teams, and the One New Zealand Warriors looking to have teams in the NRLW and age group competition, so this is a pathway for our Māori and Pasifika girls.
“The growth that we’ve had - we’ve just finished a tournament in Whakatāne for our tamariki. We had 96 teams, which equated to 2,400 young Māori playing, so Māori rugby league is in a healthy position.”
Nadene Conlon, who is a scout for the One New Zealand Warriors praised the talent within the competition.
“It’s fantastic, particularly in the past couple of years in that 13-18 year age gap and some of the talent coming through is amazing, particularly our Māori and Pacific women and girls who are made for the game, always very athletic and tend to play a lot of sports and they’re really shining in the game as well.
“It’s also looking at the future of our game and, ideally, the One New Zealand Warriors should have an NRLW team, hopefully in 2025 and, so looking at the talent coming through, and also about creating those pathways and building in towards that team as well.”
NZMRL under 14s co-captains Aaliyah Te Mete and Reve Ngaheu say they are appreciating the cultures on display.
“As young women, especially playing for your culture, it’s representing, seeing the other cultures represent, and singing songs.
“It’s bonding with the new girls from Australia and here, getting to know each other, finding out everything, seeing everyone, getting to know everyone.”
This competition will culminate on Sunday, when the grand final for all grades will be played and tournament teams announced.
Hero image: Team captains of Te Teko, Aaliyah Tu Meke (L) and Reve Ngaheu (R) talk about bonding over the games. Photo / Te Ahikaa Trotman