SQUAD CAMP

No matter if you’ve played one Test or 50, the chance for any young netballer to represent your country is always an exciting opportunity.

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This week the best netballers in Australia have gathered in Canberra at the AIS for the Diamonds training camp.

The camp is four days of intense pressure to test each player’s resilience and ability to show how much they want to be in this team for our upcoming International Test series against New Zealand and Malawi, and represent their country leading into next year’s Commonwealth Games.

I’m here with my two specialist coaches Michelle den Dekker and Marg Caldow, selectors Jill McIntosh and Anne Sargeant and our tremendously hard-working support staff watching these elite athletes go through their paces as we try and pick our final team of 12.

We’ve been in camp since Wednesday with the 17 squad members, who have been joined by five invitees – Emily Beaton, Ash Brazill, April Letton, Karyn Howarth and Demelza McCloud – and training partner Carla Borrego.

As I write this, we’ve had two intense match play situations and two training session, one fitness testing session and a leadership group process.

With 12 places available in the green and gold, the rivalry between everyone in the squad is very healthy as they push each other for improvement and the willingness to combine together in their particular units on court, whether that be in the defensive end, our goalers or the centre court.

This new squad understands the opportunity to represent Australia is only a short time in their lives and they need to make the most of every opportunity that they have.

Our invitees and training partner have all contributed extremely positively to the camp to ensure that our match play is of the highest quality.

They all know that being part of this camp gives them a glimmer of an opportunity to make a Diamonds squad and the team over the next 12 months.

We have three members of the Australian 21/U team as part of our camp in Kim Ravaillion, Gabi Simpson and Paige Hadley. Their enthusiasm to be part of our program has been welcomed and enjoyed by all.

They are bright young talents with the knowledge that they are only at the beginning of their journey and the are enjoying being able to learn watch and learn from the best before they head off to Scotland next month for the World Youth Netball Championship.

Our final 12 for the Tests against the Silver Ferns and Malawi Queens will be named tomorrow afternoon. With any Australian team announcements, there will be those who are exhilarated at making it and some that are left disappointed.

For those who are unlucky to miss out, I’ll be letting them know that their chances of making next year’s Commonwealth Games team are far from over. I’ll discuss with each athlete what areas of improvement we see they need to make in their games to take the next step.

For those 12 players lucky enough to make the team, we still have plenty of hard work left over the next three months to wrest back the No.1 ranking from our arch rivals across the Tasman.

The recent retirement of Natalie von Bertouch means we also have to choose a new Diamonds captain.

There are several outstanding candidates in this squad who would all be deserving of the honor. We’re undertaking an extensive process to find the right leader to lead Australia to the Commonwealth Games and also the World Championships in 2015.

I just wanted to once again pay tribute to Nat and her fellow retiree Sharelle McMahon.

Both of these athletes are icons of the sport and the current Diamonds squad all want to say thanks to both of you for your contributions to netball in Australia.

You’ll both be missed but never forgotten as brilliant athletes who have both been part of some of the Diamonds’ most inspiring victories and fantastic sporting moments.