TOP AWARD: Whakatane netballer Khiarna Williams was awarded the Waikato Bay of Plenty Beko ‘breakthrough player of the year’ award at the Netball Waikato Bay of Plenty Awards at Sky City last Wednesday by Chantal Baxter from Craigs Investment partners. Photo Michael Bradley Photography

KHIARNA Williams’ hard work and dedication was rewarded last week at the Netball Waikato Bay of Plenty Annual Awards in Hamilton last Wednesday.

A year 12 Trident High School student, Khiarna (17) was nominated for two awards at the annual Netball Waikato Bay of Plenty Awards and won the Waikato Bay of Plenty Beko “breakthrough player of the year”.

In her acceptance speech Khiarna thanked her fellow nominees, Beko coaches, fellow players and her parents who were at the awards night.

In her second season with the Wai-BOP Beko team, Khiarna earned her starting spot in the shooting circle and the team excelled making it through to the finals for the second year straight. Wai-BOP narrowly lost 49-46 in a thrilling final against Central Manawa.

Khiarna’s performance throughout the Beko season which saw her start every game, either at goal shoot or goal attack, was such that she was also nominated for the Wai-BOP Beko Player of the Season award.

The competition was fierce for this award as Khiarna’s fellow nominees were Wai-BOP captain Ali Wilshire who was named the Beko league player of the season and Georgia Tong.

MAGIC TOUCH: Splice Construction Magic player Monica Falkner, from Opotiki, presents Simon Bratton from Challenge with a signed Magic poster for their support of the team in the 2019 season.
Photo Michael Bradley Photography

Khiarna’s parents were happy for their daughter and said the award came after another big season of fitness, strength, agility, shooting practise and court work. Khiarna has also played New Zealand Secondary Schools in 2018 and again this year.

“We are very proud she has worked exceptionally hard this year to earn her starting spot and has had great support from so many people. Like the saying goes… ehara taku toa, he takitahi, he toa takitini.”

The awards night was a star-studded affair with World Cup winning Silver Ferns assistant coach Debbie Fuller recognised along with the long-time Magic player and Silver Fern Casey Kopua, who was named the World Cup final most valuable player. Casey was presented and acknowledged for her outstanding performance and loyalty to the Splice Construction Magic team.

It was no surprise that Casey was named the Bartercard Splice Construction Player of the year after an outstanding 2019 season for the Magic, which culminated in her selection to the Silver Ferns World Cup side. Casey was also named as the players’ player of the year.

Among other award nominations was Netball Whakatane Centre in Latitude Solutions Centre Programme of the Year award for the inter-regional representative tournament between Rangitaiki, Opotiki and Whakatane for year 6, 7 and 8 players in 2019.

Two other Eastern Bay netballers were among the award winners as Hamilton Girls High School won the USL School Team of the Year Award having placed fifth at the 2018 UNISS and seventh at the New Zealand Secondary School’s Netball Championships. The team comprised Summer Parekura from Opotiki and Kalanie Kara from Ohope.

The top-level netball continues this week for Khiarna and her Trident High School premier netball team who are competing at the annual Upper North Island Secondary School (UNISS) tournament in Auckland.

Trident won the Netball Waikato-Bay of Plenty Zone Secondary Schools’ Tournament recently.