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Bond University Builds a Pacific bridge

Visiting Tongan netballers Viviena Hafoka and Seilala Sikuvea have travelled to Australia as a part of a six week PacificAus Sports and Netball Australia Immersion program designed to create pathways for emerging Pacific athletes to benefit from high performance coaching and training.

The Immersion provides athletes with exposure to high performance netball programs, competitions, expert coaching and high performance support services.

Athletes also have access to professional development and off-court education opportunities.

Seilala – an athletic defender – says the lessons have already been numerous.

“The game is so fast paced at this level,” she said. “And I love the way the players communicate with each other in the middle of all that fast movement.”

She says a crash course into elite-level strength and conditioning was eye-opening.

“My legs are still aching!” she says. “And Viviena could hardly walk for a few days afterwards!”

Both agree they’ll be taking plenty of invaluable information home with them.

“How to properly run training programs and better understand the needs of individual players,” Seilala says.

“And how to help players communicate better with each other on court.”

Kim Boland is Head of Netball Operations at Bond University.

She says the program is a particularly good for a university-based netball franchise because it allows a steep learning curve to be readily accessible.

“The girls do pre-program and post-program physical testing so our physiotherapists here at Bond get involved. There’s also sports-medical testing through the Health and Medicine Faculty. We’ve identified that Seilala has a few issues with her eyesight, so we’ve sorted glasses for her. We shouted both girls new netball shoes. So all of that, in addition to really rigorous training and learning all adds up for a really rich and rewarding experience for all involved.”   

The Bull Sharks netball family has rallied around its temporary new recruits.

“Our Sapphire team captain Hannah Le Sage has been doing some intensive one-on-one shooting training with Vivi,” Boland says. “Both have been loving it.”

“And the Gisinger family [Jorja and Joesi Gisinger both play for the Bull Sharks] who are very proudly connected to their Tongan heritage took the girls out for a big family dinner.”

Viviena and Seilala will be at Bond until August.

For the remainder of their time here they’ll train with the Bull Sharks Elite Premier League Development squad and Under 18s State Titles team.

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