Jane Cook shares her experiences from the 20/U International Series held at Netball’s Centre of Excellence between Australia Green, Australia Gold, SIS/SAS, England, NZ U20 and Aotearoa Maori. The tournament has been made possible thanks to the support of the Australian Commonwealth Games Association through its NextGEN AUSComGames program.
Photography: Narelle Spangher
Just as the netball world begins to wrap up for the season, the Australian 20/U National Squad were just beginning preparations and selections in the lead up to the World Youth Cup in 2017.
24 athletes from around the nation combined to make the Australian 20/U National Squad. Over the seven days we were exposed to a variety of targeted and experienced coaches including Tania Obst and Michelle Wilkins who will lead the World Youth Cup team next year in Botswana as head and assistant coaches.
At this camp we were given the opportunity to test and challenge ourselves during five training sessions early in the week. This training consisted of a range of specialist and group sessions. As shooters, we worked on a variety of skills such as movement patterns within the ring and a number of different ways to screen and work with another shooter.
However our camp was not all on court netball based activities. During the week we participated in two ‘Leading Teams’ sessions run by Daniel Healy. These sessions demonstrated what it takes to be successful. From dynamics to mechanics of a team, we learnt and covered it all, along with creating our own values and goals as a squad. We all took many things out of these sessions, but the one thing that stuck with me personally and I’m sure many others, is that ‘culture is the way we do things.’
As the week progressed we moved into a series of international match play, where our squad of 24 split into two teams of 12, Australia Green and Australia Gold. We were privileged with the opportunity to compete and test our skills against three international sides (England 20/U, New Zealand U/20 and New Zealand Aotearoa Maori) along with a third Australian team made up of State Institute of Sport athletes from across the nation (SIS/SAS team).
All teams within the international match play sessions provided strong competition, with some games only being determined by one or two goals. On the last day of camp and match play Australia Green and Australia Gold went head-to-head in the final game. This game was a very tight contest with both teams and all members of the squad putting out exceptional performances and execution of skills under pressure. In the end Australia Green won the final game.
After a big week of netball we now head back to our home states and territories to continue developing and training our skills along with improving on our performances from camp. These camp experiences are like no other, not only do you get the opportunity to push and challenge yourself on court, you also get the opportunity to create valuable friendships and connections with many other netballers across the nation. These friendships are some in which I will cherish forever.