My overriding emotion after our Netball World Cup victory was secured last Sunday was that of joy and relief mixed into one.
Elation is another word that comes to mind.
Thanks and gratitude are also front and centre to all the volunteers, staff, family and friends who supported us all the way.
This was truly a four-year campaign in so many aspects of our great sport, culminating in the best Netball World Cup of all time in Sydney.
Thank you to all of the fans and supporters. You have inspired us to higher levels of performance while reminding us about the purity of sport.
Our theme for this World Cup campaign was to embrace the pressure, grow and develop as people by engaging with our sisters in netball from around the world and use the analogy of space travel to confront the new frontiers of performance.
We knew that we would have challenges along the way and the loss to the Silver Ferns early in the tournament most certainly presented a challenge.
To the team’s credit, they all took responsibility quickly and were able to logically analyse the areas requiring improvement. We set the bar high and this performance against our arch rival was below par and unacceptable.
We all set to work adjusting our game plan and had to respond immediately to the great challenge of England.
Bringing no less than our best effort and attitude was essential.
Our victory against England, a very dangerous and well balanced opponent, was a true team effort.
All 12 athletes committed to `we before me’ and our next quarter against South Africa produced some of the best netball of the tournament when our attacking flow and defensive shutdown combined almost flawlessly.
The reboot so essential in tournament play was on its way.
The rest day came at just the right time as we completed our homework on possible scenarios for the weekend’s finals without getting too far ahead.
All of us needed a little recovery time here to ensure we refuelled our tanks for the final mission.
Our match against Wales assisted us in putting the final touches on the game plan and tactics for our opponents in the semi finals.
The strength of our team of 12 was on display as the different combinations provided seamless transition in performance.
The semi-final against Jamaica was a huge challenge, not least in overcoming Romelda Aitken at goal shooter.
It would take seven committed defenders on court to disrupt supply and give us an edge in turning the ball over.
Semi Finals are when mentally tough athletes have to push through the burden of expectation and still leave enough spark for the Grand Final. They are just plain hard to play in.
The Sunshine Girls continued their push right up until the final whistle but the Diamonds prevailed in one very tough match.
Now we had put ourselves into a position to win the World Cup – this was our mission from four years ago.
We had an opportunity to execute the adjustments we had practiced throughout the week; we also knew that we had to start powerfully to set the tone of this match.
Our first quarter in the Grand Final was terrific – not perfect – and we did set the tone. To the Silver Ferns credit they fought back with vigour and great tenacity.
And then the final whistle could not come quickly enough for all of us on the bench.
As we hugged each other and jumped for joy, my feeling was that I was just so pleased for the athletes that their dreams had come true, and on their home court.
Julie Corletto would retire from netball at the very top – and how appropriate for such a champion person!
Kimberlee Green would also bow out from international netball a World Cup winner on her hometown court.
Rebecca Bulley would retire having giving up everything to move to Queensland last year to keep her World Cup dream alive. To go on and win both an ANZ Championship title and World Cup was a perfect finish to a stellar netball career.
All three athletes will be sorely missed, especially their dedication to their sport.
Our own umpire extraordinaire Sharon Kelly has also retired after her hometown World Cup, still umpiring at world-class level and finishing with the Bronze Medal game.
Congratulations on behalf of all of us at the Diamonds.
Now to our team behind the team, my superb support staff and their families who support them.
To my wonderful coaching staff, Michelle and Marg Caldow … to Leigh Smith, Alanna Antcliff, Dr Sophie Armstrong, Bernd Adolph, Dr Mitchell Mooney, Kerry Leech, Angie Bain, Paula Peralta, Laura Juliff, Chris Gottaas, Alex Dandanis and – finally – Julie Richardson, the most amazing team manager of all time, thank you from the bottom of my heart!
To our national selectors Annie Sargeant and Michelle Wilkins, High Performance staff at Netball Australia led by Andrew Collins and Stacey West, Netball Australia staff led by CEO Kate Palmer and the Netball Australia Board of Directors led by Noeleen Dix, thank you for your belief and total support.
To the Netball World Cup 2015 staff and volunteers, led fantastically by Marne Fechner, thank you for delivering the best ever tournament.
To all of our Member Organisations, State Institutes, the Australian Institute of Sport and ANZ Championship teams, your support back in the daily training environment was second to none and helped to drive this High Performance program to victory.
My personal thanks to the ANZ Championship head coaches Roselee Jencke, Rob Wright, Simone McKinnis, Jane Woodlands-Thompson, Michelle den Dekker and Stacey Rosman for all of your assistance and support in the programs of all of our athletes.
Our strength is in our integration, may it continue to grow and prosper.
To all of our fans and supporters and new converts to netball, you inspire us to be better everyday.
Thank you all.