Hard work gets talent recognised

By James Perry

The New Zealand women's U18 sevens team is preparing for the Oceania Championship this weekend in Sydney.

It counts as a possible qualifying round for the Youth Olympics later this year and for some players, their rural locations haven't prevented them from earning selection. 

That is what two of the young women who have been selected in the NZ U18 sevens team believe.

Azalleyah Maaka would know.  She hails from the remote East Cape, but she says it's all about what's inside. 

"You don't have to be from a big city to be up there with all these amazing players," says Maaka, "It's just what's in here [heart] pretty much". 

It is a sentiment shared by Iritana Hohaia of Opunake and it is something the community notices and takes pride in.

"it means a lot to me and my family, especially as well to my club back home, Coastal," says Hohaia, "If you're willing to put in the hard work you will get recognised by the national coaches". 

Hohaia also says that hard work is what it will take to make dreams come true, "it is a huge dream of mine, to get to the youth Olympics.  All these extra trainings- it will finally pay off."

Both of these wāhine would like to one day be selected for the senior women's side and participate in Olympic Games in years to come.

If they were to return with medals around their necks, their communities will no doubt be extra proud of their efforts.