Gerrard to develop coaching skills

mon1MO’ONIA Gerrard’s involvement in Netball Australia’s Targeted Coach program this year can have flow-on benefits both at home and abroad.

Gerrard can develop her coaching skills working alongside some of the country’s best at netball’s new Centre of Excellence – while also passing on her knowledge to help fast track some of Australia’s top underage talent.

But Gerrard can also take what she learns from the likes of Lisa Alexander, Michelle den Dekker and Sue Hawkins and use that to help continue the development of coaches in Tonga, where she is doing a lot of work in raising the sport’s profile among the female population.

Gerrard is one of three former Australian players chosen in this year’s Targeted Coach Program intake, designed to give development opportunities within national programs and national camps.

She’ll head to Canberra for the Australian 19/U squad camp from 28 May – 1 June as part of the program.

Gerrard, 33, was a highly-respected defender in her 83 ANZ Championship appearances for the Adelaide Thunderbirds and NSW Swifts and 68 Tests for Australia. _DMC0441Li

She’s involved as a specialist defensive coach with the Swifts and is also one of the coaches involved with CSNA/Sydney Uni Netball Club’s elite development squad.

“So far it’s been pretty cool. We’ll see how it goes,” Gerrard said of her coaching aspirations.

“I’m up for any kind of feedback – good or bad.  I’m just going to take as much as I can in and see how it all runs. Either way it will be a learning curve for me and an experience at the same time.”

Gerrard said she’s committed to helping develop netball in Tonga and throughout the Pacific Islands.

“My mum being Tongan, it’s always been a second home for me,” Gerrard said. “So I’ve wanted to push these girls to have a goal outside of their normal lives.  It’s pretty scarce what girls can and can’t do so I kind of want to encourage the girls to have a crack at life and netball was a tool that’s helped me drive that.

“There’s a lot of talent out there.  There’s just not enough development opportunities for those girls.”

Next week marks a landmark milestone for Tongan netball when it fields a side in an international tournament first time in a long while.  The team will travel to Fiji to take part in the competition that also features Papua New Guinea and Northern Ireland.

“It’s been a dream of mine to have a nationally recognised team in Tonga because it’s something for girls in general to strive to achieve and have as their goal,” Gerrard said.

“Hopefully this will be the first step of many and then in June, hopefully we can be part of the Pacific Series in the Cook Islands.

“The competition will be an experience for the girls because most haven’t travelled outside the island itself.  So just getting on a plane will be the best experience in the world and then strapping on a uniform and singing the Tongan national anthem will also be a little bit different in that they’ve never experienced that before.

“The ultimate dream is to get Tonga into the Netball World Cup.”

Netball Australia’s Targeted Coach Program intake is:

17/U National Program
Amber Cross (NSW), Karly Hoar (WA), Kym Symons (ACT)

19/U National Program
Tasha Nykyforak (WA), Christine Voge (Queensland)

19/U Specialist Coaches
Lauren Nourse (C/WA, Queensland), Mo’onia Gerrard (Defence, NSW), Dan Ryan (Shooting, South Australia).

21/U National Program
Kylee Byrne (Queensland)

Netball Centre of Excellence
Stacey Rosman (Western Australia)

Netball Centre of Excellence Specialist Coaches
Megan Anderson (Shooting, NSW).