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Melissa Bessell confirms Stars squad with capture of Adi Bolakoro

Adi Bolakoro completes Melissa Bessell’s Severn Stars squad for the 2021 Vitality Netball Superleague season.

Bolakoro is a driver specialist for the British Army’s 22 Engineer Regiment and was at the heart of Fiji’s campaign at the 2019 Vitality Netball World Cup in Liverpool.

With previous Vitality Netball Superleague experience, attackers across the competition will know her for her elevation and speed across the court.

At Severn Stars, Bolakoro will be working under assistant coach Sam Cook, specialist coach Cat Tuivaiti and head coach Bessell, who cannot wait to have her as part of the team.

“My last signing is very special to me, even though we haven’t officially met in person yet [due to the current environment],” Bessell said of her athlete, who has also played for Surrey Storm and Celtic Dragons.

“Her name is Adi Bolakoro, ‘Dee’ as she is known by everyone. I knew as soon as I was looking for a defender that Dee would be just the medicine for Stars this coming season.

“I needed someone with strength, determination and enthusiasm who could bring explosive power and flair, all with a smile.

“To me, this symbolises everything about the true embodiment of what Fijian athletes are. In my career, I have had the pleasure of coaching the Fiji National and U21 team and I lived in Suva, Fiji for 18 months.

“It was the most amazing experience of my coaching career. My daughter Talei, who was named by the Fiji national team players, was born in Suva. So, I do have a true, close affinity to Fiji.

“It was such a blessing when Dee said ‘yes’ to joining me at Severn Stars this year. She is the final piece to my defence unit, and I am now, one, very happy coach.”

Stars’ squad, which will be led on court by captain Liana Leota and vice-captain Nia Jones, is an ambitious one.

After coming together as a new group ahead of the 2020 season, their work was cut short due to the global environment and the season’s cancellation.

Now, with a wealth of players returning and the additions of Bolakoro and Malysha Kelly into their environment, Stars sights are fixed on the 2021 Grand Final.

“It’s about winning, and everybody knows that,” Bessell said.

“I’ve told my players that I’m going to be at the Grand Final… end of. For me, it’s important that the girls understand where my goal is so that they know that they have to raise their bar straight away.”

“Our goal this season will be to go all the way,” captain Leota added. “Some of us don’t have much longer left in our careers, so I know my goal is to put in everything I can on and off the court, to give myself and my team-mates the best opportunity to get there.”

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