One of the most pleasurable aspects of being National Coach of our great sport is the time I get to spend watching and working with the next generation of Australian Diamonds.
I have spent a couple of days in Adelaide this week at Netball SA Stadium observing this next generation up close and personal at the 21/U National Netball Championship.
It is the beginning of a new cycle in the 21/U program as it heads towards the next World Youth Cup in 2017. However, our eyes need to be firmly on the current crop to ensure we develop and nurture each age group within that cycle period.
I will be working hard with our 21/U selectors Tania Obst (coach), Nicole Richardson and Michelle den Dekker (Australian Diamonds Assistant Coach) to ensure the rich vein of talent continues to be brought to the attention of the netball world.
All athletes at these National Championships will be thoroughly assessed and ranked according to their performances in the matches and their potential to represent Australia in the future.
We need to look ahead and predict the type of netball athlete that will keep Australia the No.1 ranked country in the netball world. That is our mission as selectors.
Our states and territories work tirelessly to play their part in this athlete pathway and it was terrific to see the Australian Capital Territory push their counterparts all the way in matches against the bigger states.
It is always with great pride and tradition that the athletes, coaches, support staff and umpires present for the Nationals. The 21/U national titles are always hotly contested and usually unearth a prodigious talent.
As I write this column I am flying to Perth to conduct my second national coach visit to the West Coast Fever as they prepare to take on the Mainland Tactix on Sunday.
As we all know, West Coast Fever has started the season with two losses and will be burning with desire to turn that around this week.
It always takes time to bed down a new attacking line-up and Fever have come up against two very strong Australian defensive rosters so far in the NSW Swifts and Melbourne Vixens.
It also shows how tough, competitive and even this competition is – the world’s best.
The great thing about a season of netball is that you get the opportunity to turn the losses around the following week in your next game and Fever will be preparing to take on a New Zealand style of play that will bring new and positive challenges for all.
Just in conclusion I want to wish Australian Diamonds squad member Paige Hadley all the very best for her recovery and rehabilitation from her recent knee injury.
I’m sure that Paige will be the most professional and hard-working person doing her rehabilitation that just reflects her work ethic as a netballer!