Tears welled in her brown eyes as she leant on her crutches on the sidelines of the netball court. Her teammates were on the court warming up for this vital match and she looked on, desperately wishing she was out there with them. She was heartbroken, not only for missing this game, but for the future of her career as she could see the goals she’d set herself crumbling around her.
Tahisha Hunt was part of the National Squad for the Fijian Pearls Netball team and their training in preparation for the Netball World Cup to be played in Liverpool, England in July 2019. They were in Darwin for the Arafura Games as a lead-up to their final training camp before heading to England. So far they’d had a successful tournament at these Games and they were about to take part in the Gold Medal match.
This was my introduction to Tahisha. As a volunteer chaplain for the Games, I had the opportunity to chat to her while her teammates were warming up for this final game.
I saw those tears in Tahisha’s eyes and instinctively put my arms around her to comfort her. She hugged me as I told her I would be following her progress as she underwent surgery and went through the inevitable rehabilitation. Her captain called her onto court for the team presentation before the game began.
Tahisha was born in Fiji and moved to Sydney with her mother when she was a few months old. She grew up in suburban Sydney and started playing netball when she was 9 years old. She went along to a school netball trial for fun, not really knowing what she was doing.
She says, ‘The first time I played was in the actual trial itself on a grass court with a crooked shooting hoop. But I was a pretty alright shooter already and confident with the ball and that was first netball team I ever made.’
my significance and identity must be in God and Him alone
Then Tahisha enrolled at a club and started playing netball on Saturdays before making her first representative team at the age of 12. In 2013 she moved to a different association and played in club and representative teams there for the next 4 years. Her selection to play for Fiji came out of the blue. She says, ‘I don’t really know how it came about, but I thought it was a pretty cool opportunity.’
When I asked her how the injury happened she told me, ‘It was in the match against Singapore, in the first quarter of the second match of the tournament.’ She had treatment courtside by two doctors on duty. They recommended she have an MRI to determine the extent of the injury and the results showed her ACL was ruptured and would require surgery. It would take a year to fully recover and get back on the court. It was devastating news for Tahisha as she was so excited to be going to England and being part of the team in the World Cup tournament.
The Fijian team went on to win the Gold Medal at the Arafura Games and Tahisha was part of the victory celebrations, receiving a medal, and joining in with their on-court rendition of the hymn, Noqu Masu, sung to honour God by Fijian national sporting teams.
Tahisha headed back to Sydney after the games to consult with her doctor to determine what the next step was with her injury, and in June she had a knee reconstruction. She struggled with the timing of her injury and was questioning God as to why this had happened to her at this time, when she had the opportunity to be part of a netball team heading to the World Cup in July.
While she was waiting for her operation, she took time reflecting on why she was so upset about the injury. She relates, ‘I realised that what you do does not define who you are, and God really revealed to me that my significance should not come from what I do, or how good I am at something, or how I can showcase my skills and talents to the world. My significance and identity must be in God and Him alone.’ She went on to say she had not cried about her injury since God revealed this to her, and she was completely set free from any self-pity and wallowing in grief.
‘I was really able to just move on and know that God has bigger and better things in store for the next couple of years.’
Tahisha is now steadily regaining strength and movement in her knee as she continues her rehabilitation, concentrating on her university studies and serving in her local church. Her goal is to be fit for selection next year for the World Youth Cup and make herself available for selection with the Fijian team.