Manurewa’s Mountford Park is hosting the Youth Trans-Tasman Touch Series this week. Among competitors are three cousins who are sporting the green and gold.
The U17 Australian Girls' side will field first-cousins 17-year-old Aaliyah Berryman-Paki, 16-year-old Faith Berryman-Nathan and 15year-old Pihuka Berryman-Duff who were all named in the 17-man squad.
Aaliyah Berryman -Paki says, “It’s exciting, like so good playing with everyone from around Australia and seeing the other girls and just wishing I could play with them and now getting the privilege to play with them you are just like, things just can’t get better and it’s even better playing with family.”
The three newly selected Australian representatives are related through their mothers, who are siblings from the Berryman family originally from Huntly.
Duff is the daughter to Gloria, while Paki is the daughter of Te Aroha and Faith Nathan is the daughter of Edith who also played sports together as teenagers. The girls consider themselves sisters with the tight-knit trio-combination hoping to debut together for the first test against New Zealand in the first of three tests.
The Berryman family is well-known for their sporting merit, having played representative sport for New Zealand, Australia and the Cook Islands in league, netball and Sevens rugby.
Uncle Steve Berryman is a former Junior Kiwi. He also represented the Cook Islands for Touch at the 2015 World Touch tournament in Coffs Harbour, Australia alongside younger brother Potatau Berryman who was a member of the Cooks Men’s Sevens team in 2014 and 2015.
“Blood is thicker than water but sometimes I guess you have to stick to the māori-pride and New Zealand all the way, but its good most of the whanau say the family is family and they do what’s best for us,” says Paki.
Paki adds this is their time to shine with all three proud to represent Australia but then again acknowledge their Kiwi connection and māori heritage.
“We can’t do much while living in Australia while most of the family has been living in Australia for a long time. It’s good to come back a feel our real culture,” says Paki.
This year the reigning champion’s returns to defend their title. Australia has kept New Zealand winless in the U17's Girl’s grade section. They've won the past four Youth Trans-Tasman Touch Series since reintroducing the Youth competition in 2009.