One of our top basketballers represented the Cook Islands at the Pacific Games in July.
Te Araroa Sopoaga started playing basketball in Year 9 and began to take it seriously in Year 10.
She says she found out she made the Cook Islands Women’s team for the Pacific Games from a teammate and could not believe it.
“It was a massive honour and privilege to know that I was going to be part of the 2019 campaign.”
The Pacific Games is a multi-sport event with participation exclusively from countries around the Pacific Ocean. This year, the event was held in mid-July in Samoa.
Te Araroa says playing basketball at the games was one of the “best experiences” of her life.
“Playing against women who played at the highest level of basketball overseas raised my understanding of the game. We had three pool games against Fiji, Samoa and New Caledonia. We won against New Caledonia comfortably 89–37 to advance through to the quarter-finals. Unfortunately, we just missed out on the semi-finals against Guam 66–67.”
A highlight for her was connecting with her Cook Island and Samoan roots.
“Playing for the Cook Islands and spending a week in Rarotonga before playing in Samoa meant I was able to have the best of both of my cultures in the space of one month.
“Seeing my mum and dad’s families made me appreciate how special family is to me and the sacrifices they made to get me to where I am today in my basketball career,” Te Araroa says.
Te Araroa currently plays for the QMC Senior A basketball team and the U19 Wellington basketball team.
In the future, she hopes to represent the Cook Islands at the Commonwealth Games in 2022 and the next Pacific Games in 2023. Te Araroa also hopes to gain a scholarship to play basketball in
the United States.
She says she is inspired by her parents to keep pursuing her dreams in playing basketball.
“My biggest sports role models are my parents. Although they have never played professionally, they have taught me almost everything I know about sport that occurs both on and off the court. The wise advice that they give for my games is encouraging and constructive, helping me to improve my game. The sacrifices that they have made for my siblings and I to play sport never goes unnoticed and I will forever be grateful for them both.”