Zara Feaunati looking forward to NZSS netball tour


Story courtesy of College Sport Media

Zara Feaunati (Scots College) is one of three Wellington netballers recently named in this year’s NZSS netball team that is touring Australia at the end of this month.

College Sport Wellington caught up with Zara about her netball and her busy life on and off the court.

College Sport Wellington: Congratulations on being selected for the New Zealand Secondary School Netball team, what was your reaction on finding out?

Zara Feaunati: Once I got the call from one of the coaching team, I remember feeling so nervous but also excited to answer the phone. I had all sorts of thoughts going through my mind in that second, which I was trying to prepare myself for either outcome. My first reaction after being told I made the team was pure shock and excitement. Although, I was proud of myself and knew I had worked hard to earn this. I remember the first thing I was looking forward to while ending the call was looking forward to calling my parents and letting them know I had been selected. Through their reactions over the phone, I knew they were proud, and they made sure I knew they were proud.

Through my netball programme at High Performance Sport Wellington, I had set goals at the end of last year coming into this year. My number one main goal was to make the Secondary Schools team, so making the team and being able to achieve my number one goal was very special to me, but also my family.

CSW: Tell us about what is coming up?

Zara: Before departing to Australia, the team meets in Auckland for a two-day camp which will help us build structure and connections on court before leaving for Australia. Personally, this is the highest level to representative I have played and have never experienced international play so I'm very excited to get a taste of it and  to be in the new environment.



CSW: You have always been a defender:

Zara: Growing up playing netball my key positions had always been GK/GD and even coming into this year they are still my top played positions played through school and club. Although, when attending the NZSS trial, I got pushed out of my comfort zone and the majority was playing WD, which I enjoyed a lot. As I wasn't familiar with the position, I found it easy to adjust to WD as the girls around me at the trial would give me tips and boost my confidence there. Through the campaign and if I am to grow my netball more in the future WD would be my key position.

CSW: How long have you playing netball for and what are your early memories?

Zara: I started playing netball when I was around year 4-5 in primary school. Before that I was always down at the courts watching my older sisters play wishing I could have a turn. A key memory from when I was younger was being able to play my first ever game for my primary school. I was so nervous and excited but looking back now little, me would have never thought I was going to achieve so much through the sport.

CSW: What teams have

you played in over the past couple of years or so and any highlights that stand out?

Zara: Over the past couple of years, I have been selected for the Wellington U18 team and played in my school Senior A team. Although my season was cut short after fracturing my ankle through a netball game at the start of 2022 which sat me out for majority of the season. As hard as this was, I was able to come back stronger and play in LNISS (Lower North Island Secondary Schools) for my school at the end of last year. This year I also play in the Wellington U18 team and Scots College Senior A team again.

CSW: Were you involved in the recent winning Championship Central Manawa squad?

Zara: This year I wasn't involved with the Central Manawa team. Although, I was a part of one of their trials as an experience and found it quite challenging but good for myself to be in that environment. Next year I am looking at trialling for the team and setting it as one of my main goals for netball next year. Two of my friends who are always selected for NZSS, Sarah Guiney [Marsden] and Phoenix Schwalger [St Mary’s College], were selected for Central Manawa which we were all so proud of!

CSW: Heading into the NZSS tour, was does a typical week playing and training entail for you?

Zara: A typical week for me includes training over the majority of the week with rest days in between. This includes school, representative and S & C netball training. I have a school game on Saturday in which we are hoping to move up to Prem Reserve grade from Collegiate. Sundays involve a representative tournament, and we have about three more before heading to nationals in Hamilton mid-July.

CSW: What other sports have you played or still play?

Zara: Growing up alongside netball I have also had big involvement with rugby. I started playing rugby when I was around 10 and have loved it since then. For rugby I have represented Wellington representative teams alongside Samoa in the U18s World Sevens and in a 15s Tournament. I am also involved with the Marist St Pat’s Women’s team – although I decided this year to give rugby a break and focus solely on netball while preparing for Secondary Schools. In the future I would be keen to get back into rugby if possible.

CSW: Tell us a bit about your family sporting ties?

Zara: I look to my family as a very sporty family, and we were all involved with sport especially through our college years. My dad [Zac] would be my key lead in my sporting ability, he was a former high honours rugby player and my trainings started with him at a young age and to this day continue. My older sister Maddie Feaunati is also very into her sports. Throughout college her sport was netball where she was involved with her Senior A school team, Wellington Reps and Netball Development Camps. Although, after finishing college she switched codes to rugby which she was selected for the Wellington Pride last year and was part of the Women’s Hurricanes team this year. My other two sisters also play netball down at Akau Tangi for P.I.C and MSP netball. My siblings and family would be one of my biggest inspirations to me but also my WHY. In all I do I remember I do it to make them and myself proud. They have definitely left me big shoes to fill coming forward.

CSW: Do you have ideas as to what you are going to do next year apart from your sport?

Zara: This year at school my main goal is to prepare myself for next year. As I am a boarder at Scots College, this makes it easy for me to attend trainings but also on living more independently. Next year I definitely want to go to university, probably Victoria University, but am still unsure on what I want to study. I know I want to study something to do with sports and stay in that environment but still working towards getting an idea of what It could be. I've decided to stay in Wellington as I know the opportunities It can offer me especially through sports but also to stay close and connected to my family.

CSW: Thank you and good luck for everything that’s coming up!



Article added: Wednesday 14 June 2023


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