The news that Cath Cox departed the Diamonds training camp earlier than expected last week should be no cause for alarm for netball fans.
Cath is a total professional in every sense of the word and is giving her mind and body a well-earned rest after what has been an intense six years of back-to-back International campaigns and ANZ Championship seasons.
Cath wants to give herself every chance to be in the best possible shape come selection time for next year’s Commonwealth Games – that is uppermost in her mind.
As with everyone in the Diamonds team and squad, her performances come selection time next May are critically important to the mix of the team.
We are all hell bent on improvement and that was exactly what was evident in last week ‘s squad camp at the AIS in Canberra where 18 squad members were vying for selection for this year’s International Test Series against New Zealand and Malawi – ably assisted by four invitees and one training partner.
The final team selection was difficult and many areas of the court required solid analysis from the selectors – myself, Jill McIntosh and Annie Sargeant.
But we had a clear philosophy of using these upcoming seven Tests to get as much practice as possible for the Commonwealth Games.
The main focus is a gold medal in Glasgow.
Our support staff will be critical in this process. Their job will be to looking at managing any niggling injuries to ensure we have – at least – 18 fit and healthy athletes available for selection next May.
This requires the players to make sacrifices for the team with a long-term view rather than a short-term fix.
This requires working back from July 2014 to now and plotting the course for all individuals as well as the team.
Welcome to high performance sport.
Demelza McCloud was rewarded for her good form with the Firebirds in the ANZ Championship this season and is thoroughly deserving of her spot in the 12 for the Malawi Tests.
It also shows every player in the ANZ Championship that, if you are prepared to work hard at your game, you can achieve your goals. The delight on Demelza’s face when she was told she was back in the green and gold for the first time in years was priceless.
The other very important task of the camp was to revisit our leadership process and values and behaviors. It was great to see everyone fully engaged in this task and re-commit to our trademark and behaviors.
We’re now undertaking the process of selecting our new captain and vice-captain with these values and behaviors firmly in mind.
This is an important position in Australian netball and candidates must formally apply for the roles and then be interviewed for each position.
We hope to have our new leaders ready to be announced by the end of next week’s team camp in Canberra.
And wasn’t it exciting to see the Fast5 team for the series in November announced on Thursday.
It is a young and exciting team with a great blend of experience with likes of Demelza McCloud, Susan Pratley and Carla Dziwoki.
The shooting end will be particularly important in this competition with the different scoring format – where there’s one, two and three-point scoring zones – absolutely crucial to winning the shortened matches.
It is an exciting game with plenty of thrills and athletic feats.
I wish Jane Searle and Jane Woodlands-Thompson the very best of luck for their coaching debuts in this competition.