I want our program to become the world’s best

2015 ANZ Championship Round 13 Melbourne Vixens v NSW SwiftsI am thrilled to be entrusted with the role as head coach of the Australian Diamonds through until the end of 2019.

I believe we can continue to make improvements on our program into the future – we have ‘unfinished business’ to pursue and work on.

However, it is now time to get down to the business at hand, and that’s the Netball World Cup SYDNEY 2015.

We have been preparing for this event for the past four years and are still busy fine tuning some elements to ensure the Diamonds are well prepared for this pinnacle competition.

We must have a flexible and strong athlete group in all the technical, tactical, psychological, decision making and physical conditioning attributes.

This will be tested again by a new format draw, where we play more of the top four countries more often than ever before.

This is terrific for netball fans but it provides new challenges for coaches to ensure that athletes are adaptable and able to combat different playing styles and quick turnaround in terms of preparing game plans and opposition analysis.

I liken it to chess on a netball court. Being able to read moves ahead and still be in the moment will be critically important.

A huge achievement this Sunday is that it will be the final game in charge of the Adelaide Thunderbirds for my highly-respected and valued coaching colleague Jane Woodlands-Thompson.

It will be a fitting tribute to Jane if the Thunderbirds can post a win on Sunday against the Central Pulse.

Winning one ANZ Championship title is hard enough. But to back up and win two premierships over her eight-year career is an amazing achievement.

Jane has pursued excellence since day one and continues in that quest today. She is meticulous in her preparation and is always looking for that winning edge for performance.

www.mbphoto.co.nzI have thoroughly enjoyed our time together over the past eight years as, firstly her assistant at the Thunderbirds, pictured left, and then working closely together when I became the National Coach.

We have shared many great moments and always with robust conversation finished with good humour.

On behalf of the netball family in Australia I would like to personally thank Jane for her tireless contribution to our game.

Two of our former Diamonds from the ANZ Championship will retire this weekend in Bianca Chatfield and Demelza Fellowes.

Both endured time away from the National team in their careers only to come back into the fold as great contributors in the latter stages.

I would like to thank them both for their contributions to the Australian Diamonds and wish them well in their final matches this weekend.

At the other end of the spectrum it was thrilling to observe the progress from this side of the ditch of our 19/U teams in New Zealand.

It is important to understand that the two teams were evenly split in terms of playing personnel and thus made up our entire 19/U squad. That Australia Green won the tournament and Australia Gold came in third place was a magnificent effort by all.

Congratulations to the coaches Michelle den Dekker and Tania Obst and all support staff. You represented Australia with distinction.

Enjoy the final round of ANZ Championship, it should be a fascinating round of matches.

Go Diamonds!