24/05/2024

Cat Tuivaiti. Picture: Silver Ferns

In the first episode of Pure As, Silver Fern #148 Cat Tuivaiti recounts the struggles and success of changing the public’s perception of a netballer’s appearance.

In the first episode of Pure As, Silver Fern number 148 Cat Tuivaiti recounts the struggles and success of changing the public’s perception of a netballer’s appearance.

Cat Tuivaiti grew up knowing she wasn’t the same size of those around her, and dealt with that fact from day one.

“I was not your typical, athletically-shaped netballer,” Tuivaiti said.

“I always knew it.

“But, I could see things happening before they were happening, I could move the ball and thread the needle.

“There were things that I could pick up that they couldn’t.

“But it didn’t matter to average Joe or Aunty Barbara down the road who saw that I was bigger than them, and just commented on that alone.

“So I knew it was there, but I also knew that I’d never seen anyone like me before.”

Speaking in episode one of the second season of Silver Ferns’ Pure As production, Tuivaiti gave an honest insight into the formative stages of her career, and having to deal with the constant attacks from the outside due to her weight as a professional netballer.

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The positive to come out of her trying experiences was the ability to be a role model for the younger generation that looked to her as an inspiration.

Obstacles were littered in her way, but her determination and resilience to be the best athlete possible has been a catalyst for change within netball.

“It got easier and easier as I got older, because I knew that I was getting secret messages from girls that looked like me or felt the way that I felt,” Tuivaiti said.

“Even men that know they’re different to everyone else, and they love netball but they’re not very good at it, or they’re bigger so no one will pick them.

“So there were things I knew I was doing to change the perception of what a netballer should look like and how a netballer should play.

“So that always calmed my heart down but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t piss me off because I had to go through some pretty rough times, I had to go through some stuff.”

Tuivaiti also recounted her unique path to represent the Silver Ferns. With the chance to represent Samoa an opportunity she pounced on, it became apparent that a four year period of ineligibility would be triggered if she chose to represent New Zealand.

After that four year period concluded, she was selected in the Silver Ferns squad to play in the 2011 World Netball Championships, but was again ruled ineligible.

“Once I got the call to say I couldn’t go it just shattered me, my heart just broke,” she admitted.

When she finally got her opportunity, she didn’t disappoint on the big stage.

“I had had so many ups and downs, to finally just be out there and just be a part of it all,” she said.

“I remember the butterflies, I remember [saying to myself] ‘don’t cry, don’t cry’.

“It was just finally, it’s here, after everything.”

The full interview is available to be watched online by members of the Silver Ferns.

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