That’s the overwhelming emotion I feel right now about everything the Aussie Diamonds have accomplished over the last 12 months, especially in 2014, as we wrapped up the Real Insurance Netball Test Series in Canberra this week.
It was wonderful to be able to celebrate the 400th international Test match played by an Australian team with a victory over England in front of another packed stadium.
I like to think that our current group of Diamonds is carrying on the tradition of that very first Australian team that started us on this journey back in 1938 and I am so honored to be in charge of this wonderful group of athletes.
We set out to win every Test match that we play but to finish the international calendar undefeated – the first time an Aussie side has done this for more than a decade – is something that the team savored after the series was completed.
We have a goal that we not only want to be known as Australia’s best netball team, but also one of the country’s best sporting teams and there’s still so much more we want to achieve as a group.
To have won 19 Tests in a row is an amazing achievement and hopefully we can keep building on that streak in 2015.
Of course, winning the Commonwealth Games Gold Medal in August remains the crowning glory of the year but every time we pull on the green and gold we want to do our best not just for ourselves but for our country and our fans.
We hope that we’ve given you all some special memories over the past 12 months.
I have to also say that the crowds during the Real Insurance Netball Test Series have been fantastic and I know that the girls appreciated the support and seeing so much green and gold in the stands against New Zealand and England.
It was also a special moment for me to able to tell Clare McMeniman she was going to make her international debut in the final Test of the series against England and she handled her job like the true professional she is.
So congratulations Clare on becoming the 163rd Australian representative!
I also want to take this opportunity to thank the other `team’ that’s helped the Diamonds achieve the success that we have. That’s our support crew who do a lot of work behind the scenes to ensure the team is best prepared for every Test match that we play.
They have done a fantastic job over the last 12 months and the team really appreciates their efforts.
So now we get the chance for a bit of a break but rest assured next year’s Netball World Cup in Sydney remains paramount in our minds. We’ll gather for a training camp at the end of November where we’ll start planning our journey towards defending our crown.
This will be a momentous occasion for the sport in Australia and the Diamonds want to make sure we’re ready to take on the world on our home court and emulate the feats of our 1991 counterparts.
Netball Australia has been doing a lot of work over the past couple of years in removing any barriers to people participating in our sport, and this initiative will open more opportunities.
They won four of the five matches played, their only defeat being a one-goal loss to South Africa’s FAST5 team, and it was great to be able to expose our young, up-and-coming talent to what international netball is like.
The girls also had the opportunity to experience what a fantastic country South Africa is away from the netball courts, including a coaching clinic for 30 15/U girls in Porchefstroom organised by UNICEF. That’s a life experience I’m sure none will forget.
Well done to Michelle, captain Ashleigh Brazill and the rest of the team for being such wonderful ambassadors for not just Australian netball, but our country in general.
As always, on behalf of the Australian Diamonds, thanks so much to all our loyal fans for your support over the year and we can’t wait for next year’s Netball World Cup to arrive in Sydney!