It was inspiring to be around the stadium that housed the triumphant performance of Cathy Freeman, who won the Olympic Gold Medal that she had dreamt about as a young person in country Queensland.
The fact that she was able to clear her mind of all the distractions of a home Olympic Games and perform as she did was truly inspirational.
Cathy will be an inspiring story for the Australian Diamonds to draw on as we prepare for the Netball World Cup in Sydney in August, on our home court.
We are so fortunate to have such great sporting legends to look up to – particularly in our own wonderful sport.
We look forward to sharing their stories with our fans as the sport gears up for its biggest year of netball events ever in its history.
Our Netball World Cup Simulation Camp proved to be a terrific learning experience for all of us and a reminder to the entire squad and staff that we must keep improving.
The wonderful new facilities of Netball Central were appreciated by all and were the perfect backdrop to a productive five days of training and matchplay.
The assistance and support of NSW Swifts Coach Rob Wright was second to none, providing extra athletes for training sessions including Abbey McCulloch, Erin Hoare, Micaela Wilson and Stephanie Wood.
The resources and facilities of the NSW Institute of Sport were also utilised for recovery and strength and conditioning sessions.
Our new concept of embedding the Netball Centre of Excellence within the Diamonds Camp proved highly successful as Kate Shimmin, April Letton, Jo Weston and Amy Steel took full advantage of the extra coaching and technical sessions provided.
Their progress was further enhanced by the opportunities provided alongside the Diamonds in matchplay sessions.
We were also very fortunate to have the services of our very best High Performance Umpires for both matchplay sessions and also shared a working lunch that group on our final day.
This was due to the highly-valued High Performance Umpires Camp held on the same weekend where our top umpires come together for training, education and resourcing.
Our top umpires – including Sharon Kelly, Michelle Phippard and Rachel Ayre to name but a few – were on hand to discuss rules and interpretations for the season ahead.
It is always a robust discussion and very important to the great relationships and respect that the Diamonds have for the Umpires and vice versa.
It was a highly successful camp with key learnings to take forward into the Diamonds preparation for the Netball World Cup.
So now we now turn our attention once again to Sydney and Netball Central this weekend for the ANZ Championship Pre-Season Summer Shootout. I will be especially keen to assess our neighbours from New Zealand to get a gauge on their preparations for this coming season.
It is always fascinating to observe the teams and coaches in action in their first hit out of the year. Will they play cat and mouse and not show all their cards? Will they want to show their dominance and go for the wins?
All will be revealed this weekend.
Julie Hoornweg is leading the High Performance program in Tasmania and it was wonderful to catch up with her and support her efforts in improving netball in the Apple Isle.
These are the sort of coaching sessions I just love being a part of.
Of course the Diamonds is my No.1 priority number, but working with our country’s best up-and-coming junior talent always brings my attention back to the importance of our pathway and our coaches doing the hard yards with our up and coming athletes.
Here’s to a big season of ANZ Championship!