In second of this three-part series, we spoke to Kobe Atamu Anitelea, a water-polo player from Papatoetoe and winner of Ōtara-Papatoetoe Local Board's Pursuit of Excellence Award.
Water polo isn’t a popular sport in Pacific communities but 15-year-old Kobe Atamu Anitelea is trying to change this perception by being one of the very few Pacific premier secondary school players in this sport.
Papatoetoe resident Kobe took the next step towards his goal after his team went to compete in a championship in Australasia. Ōtara-Papatoetoe Local Board’s Pursuit of Excellence award enabled him to go to Australia for the Trans-Tasman Cup Water Polo Competition in December last year.
“I want to use my experience to increase diversity in the sport of water polo, as I am the only Pacific player in my school premier water polo team and one of very few Pacific premier secondary school players in the sport.”
Kobe is part of NZ Water Polo Academy’s high-performance group and the water polo team at his school. His team secured overall third place at the competition in Australia.
“Attending the Trans-Tasman Water Polo Champs helped strengthen my profile as a top premier schoolboy water polo player and provided me with an opportunity to represent my school at the highest level in Australasia. It has helped me to develop my leadership skills as a key senior player in the team.”
He says that for the players of an expensive sport like Water Polo, financial difficulties could come in between their goals. But also hopes that the local board’s initiatives will continue supporting youth and locals in the journey towards success.
“With the help and financial support of the Ōtāra-Papatoetoe Local Board, I hope more Pacific players like myself will not only be able to take up the great sport of water polo but continue to play at the highest level without money being a barrier.”
Local board’s award covered the cost of airfare, event registration, accommodation, ground travel and other operational costs for him.
Kobe is an achiever and that is reflected in his glowing achievement record at such a young age. He was awarded the Most Promising Water Polo Player Sports Award in 2017. His team competed for nationals and placed second for U14 Sea Wolf in 2017 and fifth for U16 Sea Wolf in 2018.
He was selected in NZ Born 2003 Boys’ Water Polo Squad in 2018 which is a pathway programme for NZ selection for Men’s World Games. that recognises top players in New Zealand for this age group.
He also coached year 5 and 6 water polo teams at Holy Cross School in Papatoetoe.
“Living in Papatoetoe, South Auckland I hope to promote the water polo through my participation and success as a player. I enjoy coaching water polo at my local primary school where I can give back and serve in my community.”
Talking about his future goals Kobe says that he wants to increase local profile and image at the world level, serve the community and promote diverse participation in local government and civic life.