PNG nets local player for Delhi
CHERYL RENAGI didn’t believe her friends when they told her she had been selected to represent Papua New Guinea in Netball at the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games.
The Lismore lass wanted to hear it from the national coach.
It didn’t take long.
“Some of the girls in PNG text me and said that I had made the team,” she said.
“I didn’t want to say anything to anyone just in case it wasn’t true.
“But the next day I got an email from the coach saying I had been selected.”
Given the opportunity to represent her country at the highest level the 20-year-old Renagi was ecstatic.
“So proud, so happy, and so excited,” she said.
“To be part of a world renowned event like the Commonwealth Games is definitely a dream come true.”
But a dream realised through hard work.
Renagi has travelled back and forth between Lismore and PNG to attend training and selection trials in a bid to earn selection with the Pepes (translates to butterflies).
Her most recent trip earned the selection, but in reality it might have been at the NSW State Championships where Renagi’s papers were stamped.
A PNG development squad, overseen by national coach Pole Kassman, attended the championships in Sydney where they played a series of exhibition matches.
One of those exhibition matches was against Lismore.
This was Renagi’s time to shine.
“I really wanted to impress the coach,” she said.
And according to Lismore coach Mel Dundas, shine she did.
“Cheryl had an absolute blinder,” Dundas said.
“She was strong and fast and skilful – there is no way that the PNG coach wouldn’t have taken notice.
“Cheryl got a great opportunity and she pounced on it.”
Opportunities are things that Renagi is grateful for.
She moved with her family – father, mother, brother and sister – from Port Moresby to Lismore as a 14-year-old in 2004.
And although she has played netball since a child, it is here in Lismore that she has flourished.
“The facilities and opportunities are much greater here,” she said.
“I wouldn’t be the player I am today if we hadn’t moved.”
In Lismore, the Renagi’s quickly became close with another family of PNG migrants with a famous sporting son.
David Mead moved to Australia as a 12-year-old kid and chased his rugby league dream.