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Talented Pulse midcourter takes step up in her stride

Teenaged Pulse midcourter Paris Lokotui has made great strides during her first year at the elite level. Photo: PhotoWellington

July 22, 2021
 

Always destined to go places, teenaged Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse midcourter Paris Lokotui has added extra clout to her résumé following a fruitful introduction to the ANZ Premiership netball league.

Lokotui, 19, has already represented New Zealand in three different sports – netball (NZ Secondary Schools/NZU21), basketball (Junior Tall Ferns) and water polo (NZU16) and this year, the multi-talented all-round sportswoman got her opportunity at the elite level after building an impressive portfolio in junior and age-group ranks.

Starting out as an in-circle defender, Lokotui has been re-modelled into primarily a wing defence/centre after two successful seasons with the Central Manawa National Netball League team.

For the Emerging Sportswoman of the Year in the Dominion Post Sport and Recreation Awards 2021, much of the learning in taking the next step up has come off the court while juggling fulltime study in computer science and commerce at Victoria University with life as a top netballer.

``Coming up to this level is so different, everything’s full-on, especially with it also being my second year at university,’’ Lokotui said. ``I had to adapt very quickly and learn to do things on the fly but I’m pretty happy with how I’ve managed my time and how things have turned out.

``Learning how to balance uni, training, eating, recovery and things like that has been the big work-on. The ability to balance all parts of your life really becomes a priority when you’re a professional athlete while also making sure you have time for friends and having fun away from the sporting environment.

``A lot of it has been trial and error to find out what works best but I’m really grateful to the Pulse for helping me with uni and supporting me along the way.’’

Among the second wave of young sportswomen to receive a scholarship from the Tania Dalton Foundation in 2019 which provides talented young sportswomen with financial and practical support and a high-profile mentor, Lokotui couldn’t have asked for a better side-kick than Silver Ferns shooting great Irene van Dyk in helping her prepare for life at the top.

 

``Irene has always been available for coffee and a catch-up and having her knowledge readily available while being able to pick her brain about elite environments and things like that has really helped me,’’ Lokotui said.

 

The Pulse have struggled for wins this season, but Lokotui has had plenty of off-court wins and certainly not looked out of place in the on-court exchanges, happily embracing the ups and downs that are part and parcel of sport.

 

``I’ve found it really special being a part of this team,’’ she said. ``I definitely have had more game time than expected this year, have just taken every opportunity and it’s all, the good and bad, been part of the learning.’’

In their final game of the season, the Pulse meet the well-performed Southern Steel in Invercargill on Saturday hoping to do themselves justice while sending departing coach Gail Parata out on a high note.

Netball Central Director of High Performance Wai Taumaunu couldn’t be happier with the strides Lokotui has made during 2021.

``Paris is a very versatile player with a lot of power and a great skill level,’’ Taumaunu said.

``But what’s also revealed itself this year is she’s got a great head, is very calm, very composed and seeing that growth in her has been, for me, the most pleasing aspect of it, the piece we weren’t expecting.

``Physically, she’s the athlete we thought she was but she’s turned out to be a really mature, composed young woman with great leadership skills.’’

Ends

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