The Centre of Excellence replaces the former scholarship program at the Australian Institute of Sport, which has a rich history in netball stretching back more than 30 years.
The Centre of Excellence will provide selected athletes with an intensive daily training environment in a full time program with Australia’s elite coaches and the AIS performance support staff as well as international touring experience.
den Dekker said she’s privileged to be appointed to such an important role in Netball Australia’s High Performance program.
“The Centre of Excellence is paramount to ensure that Australia’s next generation of netballers are prepared and that their transition into the Diamonds program is seamless,” den Dekker said.
“Working closely alongside and supporting Australian Diamonds head coach Lisa Alexander, I am privileged to be able to see first-hand the pressure that our players are exposed to as international athletes.
“To be able to facilitate a program that will prepare our next generation to be resilient, focused to achieve and have exceptional work ethic is paramount to their transition to ensure we develop great players but equally great people. “
One of the greats of Australian netball, den Dekker played 84 Tests and is the country’s most successful captain, winning 91 per cent of her 71 Tests at the helm.
Awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 1993, den Dekker has coached in the former Australian National league, at Premier League level in South Australia and was a specialist coach at the AIS as well as with the Diamonds and with Netball Australia’s underage programs.
The Centre of Excellence will host four specialist camps during the year where selected athletes will receive expert coaching from former Australian internationals Sue Hawkins, Michelle Wilkins, Nicole Richardson and Jane Searle.
Australian underage selector Cathy Fellows will be responsible for hosting a talent gap camp with this year’s focus on defenders who are 190cm or taller.
“These specialist coaches will ensure the athletes are exposed to innovative expertise in their chosen areas to fast track their development,” den Dekker said.
Netball Australia’s Head of High Performance Carol Byers said den Dekker’s previous experience working with elite young talent and her knowledge on what it takes to be successful at the top level made her an ideal choice to fill such a crucial position in the High Performance Pathway.
“We believe Michelle’s enthusiasm towards developing the next generation of Diamonds will ensure this program succeeds,” Byers said.
AIS Director Matt Favier congratulated den Dekker on her appointment as the Netball COE Head Coach and said he looked forward to the continued success of the program as a stepping stone for the Diamonds.
“Netball has a rich and successful history at the AIS and I am very pleased that Netball Australia made the decision to host the COE here in Canberra,” Favier said.
“I look forward to more young players coming through and eventually representing their country under Michelle’s guidance.
“Michelle was part of our inaugural Performance Coaching and Performance Leadership program at the AIS so I am sure those learnings will be put to good use with the COE program.”