INF world ranking: 13
World Cups played: 8
Highest World Cup finish: 6
Fiji first participated at a World Cup in 1975 when netball’s quadrennial event was held in Auckland, New Zealand. Known as the Fiji Pearls, the team qualified for Liverpool back in April 2018 winning every match but one (against Samoa) in the Regional Qualifier – Oceania. The Pearls are coached by former Australia Diamond Vicki Wilson who alongside Liz Ellis holds the Australian record for the most World Cup appearances, both having played in four. Liverpool will be Fiji’s ninth appearance at netball’s pinnacle event – can they climb any higher than sixth, their highest World Cup position to date?
Goal shooter Lydia Panapasa comes from a family line of elite sports people. Her mother represented Fiji in athletics and basketball, her aunt was a formidable hockey player and her cousin represented Fiji at rugby union. “I want to follow in my mum’s, my aunt’s and my cousin’s footsteps,” she says. Liverpool will be Panapasa’s first World Cup experience and she is focusing on the task in hand by spending two to three hours, six days a week training for the battle ahead.
Like mother like daughter, goal shooter Matila Vocea will follow in her mother’s footsteps when she makes her World Cup debut in Liverpool this July. A former Fiji Pearls captain, Vocea’s mother Vasiti Setuata represented Fiji at three World Cups (1987, 1991 and 2003). Vocea only stepped into the game aged 15, but four years later aged 19, her strong performance on the court has been enough to secure her place on the team bound for Liverpool. When the goal shooter isn’t training, she likes to bake, make pizzas and is currently studying for a Bachelor of Science degree.