HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 650: 23 January 2013

Rising star keeps it simple

The National Netballers of the Cook Islands were on display recently at the inaugural “Netball In Paradise” competition at the Telecom Sports Arena, and a versatile defender representing the National Open side was spotted by selectors as a star in the making.
19 year old Ashleigh Iro can play C, WD, GD and GK, though she prefers “movement” and the more mobile roles which straddle two thirds of the court.
Raro is the pearl but the world is the oyster
Born in Leeds, England, Ashleigh is the eldest of six children to parents Kevin and Tina and she has experienced life in four countries to date.
Moving from England where her father played Rugby League, to the Cook Islands at the age of eight, followed by New Zealand for school and university, Ashleigh is defiantly proud to call Rarotonga home.
Now at AUT in Auckland majoring in Physiotherapy, Ashleigh is focused on passing her degree course, but the travelling life still entices.
“When I finish Uni I’m planning on doing overseas experience and travelling to other countries.”
“As a team I really hope we qualify for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. We will be starting training soon, which is really good because we need to be ready.”
Ashleigh’s netballing career began in Rarotonga playing for the Titikaveka Pearls where she learnt the basics for just half a season before moving to Mount Albert Grammar, one of New Zealand’s top Netballing schools.
After trying other sports such as Touch, Basketball and Lacrosse, Ashleigh felt Netball was the one to excel in, and before long she was playing simultaneously for school, club, and rep teams.
Playing her own game
Balancing different team commitments came with its challenges and Ashleigh had to adapt to different coaching styles.
“I’ve sort of struggled with that. Not so much now, but more when I was in school. I’d be playing club, school and rep, having different coaches which all had different coaching styles made it difficult at times. One coach will like the way you do something but another coach will hate that! So you are torn between who to impress.”
“But I’ve learnt that sometimes you just have to play how you play and do what works for you rather than what works for anyone else.“
Train, train and train again!
Ashleigh played her first test against Samoa in Fiji just six months ago. Although she says the Turquoise Team (Fiji) has been her most challenging opponent to date.
“They were so fit, unbelievably fit. I played Centre in the Fijian game and I remember thinking oh my goodness I need to train like five times a day! But it was good, I like the challenge.”
Ashleigh is shy to admit she is one of the fitter members of the squad, but her father’s advice has paid dividends in her success.
“My Dad has always told me to always train more than what anyone else would train. You don’t just go to your team training, you’ve got to do your own training otherwise you’re just going to stay level with everyone else, you are never going to excel.”
The Cook Islands currently sit mid table in the world Netball rankings, but with more training time together as a squad, Ashleigh believes her country can move up.
“We definitely have the potential to progress up the rankings; we just have to work a lot harder than we have been. I’d like to see more Netball happening in the Cook Islands. I think they should start up some pre-season training camps.”
“I always knew I wanted to play for the Cook Islands”
From the early age of 12, Ashleigh aspired to put on the green and white dress.
“I always knew I wanted to play for Cook Islands. As soon as I started playing I knew I wanted to.
“It feels so good. I’m so proud, I love wearing the Cook Island dress, though I hate losing. Every time I put that dress on, I want to win.”
Asked about her life goals, Ashleigh’s answer was simple: “At the moment I just want to pass my exams and I want to stay in the national team – I want to see us move up in the Netball world.”

Herald Issue 608 21 March
- Terms of one China Policy document should be reviewed
- Pacific Media Assistance Scheme Seeks Innovation
- Successful NZ visit by PM
- Rerekura Teaurere New Climate Change Coordinator
- News Briefs

Copyright 2006 Cook Islands Herald online . All rights reserved.