Joanah Ngan-Woo – 2016 Pasifika Sportsperson of the Year

  • In her third year studying a Bachelor of Arts in social policy and education at Victoria.
  • Been playing rugby for seven years.
  • Captain of Ories Rongotai in Miramar, and the Wellington Pride Women’s Team.
  • Played for the University's sevens team and made the NZ University Tertiary Team this year.
  • Trialed in Samoa's sevens team, Manu Sina this year.
  • Hopes to one day make the Black Ferns.

She says, ‘I'm always trying to better myself. There’s always room for practice and training.'

Joanah's top tip everyone can apply to succeed

'Work hard and don’t give up until you reach what you want to achieve.'

Joanah's journey: always striving to beat her last scores 

A friend persuading her to join practice was Joanah's first introduction to rugby, but her first impression wasn't what you might expect from someone who now thrives in the sport. But that's old news now, last year she was the first Ories Club female to receive the coveted 50 Games Player blazer. 

'I never used to like rugby and didn’t even like watching it on TV. In college one of my friend’s told me to come to rugby training. I was really scared because there were some big and strong girls in school. When I started to train with them it was a positive environment. It’s a family environment and we work well with each other on and off the team.'

Joanah made the Wellington Pride Women’s Team in her third year of playing rugby, although she mostly sat on the bench. There were two Black Ferns in her position. That didn't stop her from trying her best, and she didn't consider the bench as defeat. 

'I did my time on the bench and learnt how to better myself though. Now I’m in the starting positions, starting all the time in games.

Jet-set with her team to Wales 

During the University Sevens Tournament, Joanah and her team traveled to Hamilton, and won the tournament. After that she and her team traveled to Wales for the World Tertiary Tournament in July this year. 

'It was heaps of training and sweat to get there. Went to Wales in July this year. It was an experience. We were with some of the French girls that were going to Rio.

After going to Wales I was more motivated to play. The French girls had a lot of systems and structures. We met them on the plane to Wales. We realised how much training can help and being with the team as well.'

Keeping everything in line

In addition to studying full time and keeping up her rugby, Joanah has all-the-while successfully maintained three part-time jobs. 

'I work at Research NZ and the Stadium and as a Student Ambassador for the Pasifika. I always have everyday planned out in my diary to make sure there’s no clashes, and make sure I can fit every training in; and when there’s spare time, go to the gym.

I try to stay on top of my assignments all the time. I write every assignment in my diary and plan when to start and when to finish. If I have an assignment at the end of the week, then I plan to complete an assignment around rugby.

I’m really enjoying uni, but happy it’s my last year.'

A little help to get you by

Even though Joanah has worked hard to reach her goals by being at every training, hitting the books to get her assignments done, turning up to her jobs doing the hard yards she also acknowledges the many people who support her. 

'Being in the uni teams they really helped us with funding, provided venues to train and communicated with us a lot about the events that were happening. I find that lecturers, if you have a lot of assignments due on the same day, or an important rugby final, they’re very understanding about extensions. 

The values the sports I play teaches work ethic. Training and working hard to reach a goal – you can transfer that into your uni work and anything else. I think playing rugby has given me a wide range of networks. I’ve met a lot of people and friends.'

Looking up to people along the way

'People I look up to? My parents. They always push me to be the best I can be.

My coaches motivate me a lot to work on the little things that contribute to my game more.

My grandparents, they’re always really proud to watch my games.'

Summing it all up with the Blues

'They’re a good way to recognise peoples’ achievements at university. Not many people know what other people do. And it's [The Blues Awards] a good way for people to strive to get an award as well.'

Read about Kyle Pontifex – 2016 Sportsperson of the Year

Read about Brook Walker – 2016 Sports Administrator of the Year