den Dekker returns to head up Centre of Excellence

_MCA6519LiSir Alex Ferguson, the famous manager of English Premier League powerhouse Manchester United, always ensured he kept one eye on the future while remaining focused on winning titles every season.

Ferguson knew how important it was to keep feeding young talent that had been identified by the Red Devils’ academy program into his side.

Dubbed `Fergie’s Fledglings’, one of the more famous batch of graduates in the 1990s included players that would go on to become famous names such as David Beckham and Ryan Giggs.

A key focus for Netball Australia’s Centre of Excellence program is ensuring potential Australian Diamonds are identified early in their development and encouraged through Netball Australia’s pathway.

Centre of Excellence coach Michelle den Dekker said it’s crucial for the long-term success of the Diamonds on the world stage.

“Four years is a very short circle from Commonwealth Games to Commonwealth Games and Netball World Cups,” den Dekker said.

“We always need to look at the big picture six to eight years ahead because the depth comes through very quickly from the 17/U level.

“We need to make sure that the Diamonds have that next generation ready to go.. I’m here to make sure that the Diamonds have the talen to keep winning at every milestone event.”

“There’s competition for our athletes. Rowing are looking at the same type of physical capabilities and so is Tennis Australia; that 190cm athlete.

“So it’s about making sure we’re proactive in that space.”

michelleddThe former Australian captain and current Diamonds assistant coach will continue to lead the Centre of Excellence program in 2015 and is looking forward to improving the program over the next 12 months.

Australia’s best young talent aged between 19 and 23 will be invited to Canberra to train in a 4-5 week full-time residential program with Australia’s elite coaches and the AIS performance support staff.

den Dekker is also eager to work with those athletes, in conjunction with the coaches and high performance staff in their home states, over the course of the year to continue their holistic development.

“We have a bigger vision for what we see the Netball Centre of Excellence encompassing so it’s a wonderful opportunity,” den Dekker said.

“We’re looking to further develop the athlete management system in our national pathway prioritisting athletes’ load management and well being.”

Netball Australia’s Head of High Performance Andrew Collins said den Dekker did a great job in developing the inaugural program in 2014.

“She’s really someone that has done it all in netball and knows the game backwards. With her role as an assistant coach with the Australian Diamonds, she understands the international game better than most,” Collins said.

“She’s bringing extraordinary experience and some great coaching ideas and what she’s doing now is really influencing our best talent in the country to ensure we’ve got a pathway for future Diamonds.

“Athlete development isn’t just for a defined period. It really happens across the course of a 12-month period and a real focus of the Netball Centre of Excellence is working with those athletes we’ve identified and setting some high expectations in their development right across the whole year.”

The residential program will take place after August’s Netball World Cup 2015 SYDNEY where den Dekker aims to partner Australia’s best talent with expert coaching.

A feature of this year’s program will be a position specific camp that will identify elite athletes to learn from world-class knowledge.

“It will be a camp that encompasses goal shooters, defenders and centre court with targeted coaches and specialist coaches,” den Dekker said.