NewsPerseverance pays off for defender Tawake

April 17, 2024by Mitieli Baleiwai

Balancing full time studies and netball was not easy for Fiji Pearls defender Kalesi Tawake.

However, the 22-year-old Mualevu, Vanuabalavu, Lau lass defied all odds and graduated from the University of the South Pacific (USP) last week with a Bachelors of Science degree, majoring in Marine Science. 

Tawake who was part of the Pearls to the 2023 Netball World Cup in South Africa and the 2023 Pacific Games shares maternal links to Nukuloa, Gau, Lomaiviti studied full time for the past three years while also playing netball for the Lomaiviti club. 

Her journey to attain her degree would not have been possible through her supportive parents Commander Humphrey Tawake and Sereana Tawake, siblings, friends and families who motivated her. 

Tawake was also a former national basketball rep, represented Fiji at the 2019 Pacific Games in Apia, Samoa. 

“I left my part time job on my first year in university when I got selected into the Pearls squad due to the physical demand and strains,” she said. 

“Balancing studies and netball training was always challenging but it was my determination to make my parents proud and passion for netball that kept me throughout the three years. 

“When I recognised that things were getting tough in terms of academic pressure and netball performance, I resorted to talking to people who went through similar experiences for guidance – other student athletes from netball and rugby, and also former Pearls players,” Tawake added. 

“I’m also blessed to have parents and older sisters, friends, family who continued to push me through trying times and encourage me when I felt like giving up. 

“Throughout my three years of studying and being part of the pearls, it has allowed me to grow and become a better person then I was before all of it. I’ve met a lot of amazing people along the way and hopefully these connections will take me a long way in life after netball.”

Tawake debuted for the Pearls at the Netball World Cup Oceania qualifier in July, 2022.



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