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Blog : Joshua Worrall (Cat Tuivaiti)

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Tuivaiti looking to “leave her mark” on Scottish netball

Following a close yet ultimately disappointing defeat at home to Celtic Dragons, Strathclyde Sirens superstar Cat Tuivaiti sat down for an exclusive interview with me for my latest blog, about life at the club, her plans for her time up in Scotland, and also set the record straight on those amazing trainers.

I traveled north of the border, despite my trains being cancelled and having to do Carlisle to Glasgow by coach. The journey was eventful and the game even more so. It ebbed and flowed, both sides had strong spells in the game, and it remained close right up until the final whistle. A cracking contest, and a good advert for our sport, which is getting better and better by the week.

First of all, Cat was refreshingly honest about the setback against Dragons, highlighting the areas where the game was ultimately won and lost. “Dragons turned up today and they were ready to play. Sometimes our own mistakes let us down and that has been a telling tale for our season so far. It’s not the end of the world, we do have time to fix it, but it’s just a little bit disheartening. This is quite a personal battle isn’t it, Scotland versus Wales, with a few of us imports thrown into the mix. We knew they’d turn up like that and they deservedly won so it’s back to the drawing board.

So how is Tuivaiti settling into her new surroundings up in Scotland and what are her teammates like. “They’re an amazing bunch of humans, I love these girls. They’re open to adapting to a new style of netball that I’m looking to bring, so it’s very humbling that we can play a new style and they can take it forward into their Scotland netball.”

Speaking of that style, are those tricks and flicks practised and fine tuned to the hilt, or is it more of a spontaneous thing. “A little bit of both” says Cat, “I would say that I do practise it, only because I don’t give anyone else a chance to think about it, I just throw the ball over my head. I just think that netball has so many loopholes and we can expose them and make the game really interesting. It’s a little bit risky and I do understand that, but it can be very successful and it can really move momentum so that’s why I like it.”

Since arriving from overseas, has Cat noticed anything different, or indeed similar about the league over here. “Only differences really, everything is completely different. I think the style of netball that’s played and the way the machine runs in terms of the franchises individually and their marketing. But that’s the main reason I came here to experience something completely different, and it hasn’t disappointed.”

So what inspired Cat to move to the other side of the world to play for Sirens, and was the ambition of the club a pivotal factor in her decision. “First and foremost my husband is on this side of the world, and I really, really like him, so I thought I’d join him over here. But, I did see an opportunity to come to Sirens and have a wee impact on the way Netball is seen on this side of the world and especially here in Scotland so that’s a big part of why I’m here and I’m enjoying it so far. I do love Scotland, I think the people here are very nice. Netball is not as high on the map over here, which is something that I’m pushing to become quite popular.”

Players like Beth Goodwin will surely only benefit from being in and around the expertise of Tuivaiti, who can pass on her knowledge of the game and a fresh set of ideas. “In terms of Beth, I don’t exactly think she’s the next one coming through anymore because she’s been around for a while now, even though she’s still only young, so she makes me feel like a bit of a dinosaur (laughs), but the game of netball can be played very differently, and that’s what I’m here to try and do, to make sure that Scotland netball take the brand forward and get everyone playing netball.”

Cat’s husband Jimmy is a Rugby Union International, currently playing in the Six Nations for Italy. Are there any aspects within Rugby that Tuivaiti can apply to her own sport and vice versa. “No. I think my husband and I take everything that encompasses being an athlete and we take that within each other, the commitment, the sacrifices, the disappointment, the highs and the lows, so all the emotions we have rode them together which makes for a very strong relationship and also great athletes. We lost tonight, but because I have experienced that many times before, and I do know it’s not going to kill me, and that we live to fight another day, so there’s heaps of things we take from each other. It does feel like Rugby out there sometimes for us though (laughs)”.

With the Vitality Super League set for arguably its closest season yet, is Tuivaiti wise enough to put this result into context and look at the wider picture. “Yes absolutely, and I haven’t come her to only play one game, and I haven’t come here just to win all the time, I’ve come here to be a part of something, and win or lose, I will still be a part of something and I’ll still hopefully leave a bit of a mark here on Netball Scotland.”

Looking ahead to the World Cup in Liverpool later this year, is Cat looking forward to the competition and what it might have in store for the Scottish Internationals at Strathclyde Sirens. “It’s going to be the most interesting one we’ve had so far so I’m hopefully going to be there to watch some games. The girls here will all be turning up, we’ve been getting really quite serious with each other and having those awkward performance conversations that can often go a little bit untouched because we can get a touch emotional with it. In order to move forward we have to have those uncomfortable conversations and going forward to the International stage the pressure gets a little bit higher, the game gets really fast and it’s a little bit different, so as uncomfortable as we can make each other right now, the better the netball will be for these girls at the World Cup.

To conclude, we ended on a bit of girl talk focusing on the subject matter of Cat’s pink and blue trainers. Where did she get them from, they’re quite the Netball fashion statement. “Well I got these from Australia from my good friend Maria Folau. Look I’ve got big feet okay (laughs), and I can’t find shoes here for my feet so I begged her to bring me some from Australia and she did, so I’m ever thankful. They’re very bright and I love them.”