Netball World Cup; Top netball nation’s coaches by Debbie Laycock

Not long to go now and the best netball players in the world converge on Liverpool, UK for the most anticipated Netball World Cup in living memory! With England putting the cat amongst the pigeons winning Commonwealth Gold last year, South Africa beating England earlier this year and the relatively unknown Jamaican team recently reclassified as second in the IFNA Rankings: it really is anyone’s trophy for the taking!

So, the best netball players in the world will be playing at the M&S arena, Liverpool which only really means one thing………some of the best netball coaches in the world will be right behind them!

In this awesome and very busy (!) summer of women’s sport, passionate netball fan and blogger Debbie Laycock runs the rule over the top netball nation’s coaches, exclusively for Female Coaches Network. She debates what they may have considered in the lead up to the World Cup – the pinnacle of the 4 yearly international netball cycle and the decisions coaches may have to take in the 10 day tournament – where theirteams can play up to 8 games with ten players per squad.

Lisa Alexander – Australia. 

Ranked Number 1 in the world Aussie supporters were none too happy with their silver medals at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games last year and Lisa Alexander has been open about the disappointment. She is always very honest in her feedback to those who askand has been particularly vocal about how the imports to the Suncorp Super Netball League (by far the best domestic netball league in the world) hashadan impact on the Australia elite programme.

Lisa, a well-respected coach, who never played at elite level herself(not that that matters as we’ve debated at FCN!), is a thoughtful, process driven coach who has revolutionised the Australia Netball Diamonds culture in the 8 years of her reign. (read ‘Shine’ byJenny Sinclair and Megan Maurice)

I had the pleasure of attending a workshop a few years ago, led by Alexander,where she was really motivated to give back to netball, keen to share her thoughts and very generous with her time.

She is fiercely Aussie through and through and despite what would have been some really difficult decisions in selecting her Diamonds team for the World Cup, whatever happens in Liverpool,you can be sure she will take responsibility for her decisions and be honest in her assessment.

Noeline Taurua– New Zealand

Affectionally known as ‘Auntie Noels’ to players past and present, Noelene was bought into the Silver Ferns little more than a year ago after their disastrous Commonwealth Games tournament where, for the first time, they did not medal.

She is known for her holistic approach to coaching; person first, sport second and shares her time as Head Coach of New Zealand with the duties of Head Coach for Sunshine Coast Lightning in the Suncorp Super Netball League. She has won back to back Super league titles with Lightning in the opening seasons of Suncorp Super Netball.

She has had her work cut outwith the Silver Fernsin the last year and it has been well reported that her strict fitness targets and standards in behaviour has seen some, expected to make the cut, unceremoniously dumped from the programme.

She brings a mixed squad of youth and experience to Liverpooland all eyes, especially that of the NZ media, will be on the impact she has made in a short space of time.

Herand New Zealand Netball’shandling of star GA Maria Falou, should more come to light of her husband’s(Israel Falou) dispute with Rugby Australia over social media comments, could be crucial.

Norma Plummer – South Africa

The most decorated of all netball coaches, theformer Diamonds Player, Captain and Coach, Plummer has surpassed herself with the journey South Africa have been oninthe last few yearsunder her stewardship.

Norma Plummer is the kind of Coach you want on your wish list for the ‘fantasy dinner party’ game and not only that,you’d want her sitting next to you!

At 74 years old, she has made no bones that this will be her last major tournament, but you would not bet against her pulling off the mightiest of all coos if her starting South Africans stay fit.

Plummer recently debated the long-term success of netball coaching programmes on popular netball podcast The BBC Netball Show.

If this is her last tournament as she suggests, she is a major loss, not only to netball but to the wider coaching community.

Tracey Neville – England

There’s not a lot more to be said about Tracey Neville’s time as Head Coach of England Netball, that has not already been written. She is after all, the only Roses Coach, to bring home the gold!

She announced prior to the World Cup, that she will be leaving the post to start a family – a move that got the women’s sporting world not only talking about motherhood and coaching, but also debating the timing of the announcement. It remains to be seen whether the Roses will be motivated to ‘do it’ for their Coach or be negatively affected by the timing of the news.

She’s not afraid to make the tough decisions, such as leaving Gold medal winning Captain Ama Agbezeout of the World Cup squadand seems to deal well with the pressure of expectation weighed on her shoulders – after all she has contributed to the ‘new world netball order’ and it is a home world cup!

Marvette Anderson –Jamaica

Jamaican Netball stalwart MarvetteAnderson leads the Sunshine Girls for the 2019 World Cup, but the coaching position has been a bone of contention for Jamaican Netball in recent years and it will be interesting to see how the players react to another coach in the hotseat!

A lot has been made of the often,lethal shooting power houses of Jhanielle Fowler Reid and RomeldaAikenand the emergence of ShameraStirling at the other end of the court. It will be the mid court that will be of most interest to netball fans and opponents though, as the relative unknowns will need to gel quickly and compete fiercely if Jamaica can improve on their bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games. Marvettewill be working closely with her ‘middies’ to make sure they are not the weakest link!

Vicki Wilson – Fiji

The former Australian Diamond has a very decent playing pedigree having won 3 gold medals as a player at the World Championships (as it was then) in 1991, 1995 and 1999 as well as a Commonwealth Gold in Kuala Lumparin 1998.

She is a relative fledgling, coaching wise,but has still held down the top job at Queensland Firebirds and Assistant Coach for the Silver Ferns until landing the Fiji role in 2016.She will have her work cut out if Fiji are to advance out of the group stages of the competition,but Wilson is definitely a contender for a Head Coaching role with one of the top nations, long term. One to watch without doubt!

Dan Ryan– Northern Ireland

Fresh from a stint as Assistant Coach at Super League winners Manchester Thunder and before that Head Coach at Adelaide Thunderbirds in the Suncorp Super Netballleague, Northern Ireland will no doubt have benefitted from Ryan’s short, but impactful, tenure.

Already having to shuffle his pack due to injury, Ryan has a flare for tactics and strategy, he is another honest, wears his heart on his sleeve Coach, which will besharedas he combineshis coaching duties with commentating!

Gail Parata –Scotland

The New Zealander took charge of the Scottish Thistles in 2017 and coaches the Strathclyde Sirens in the Vitality Super League. She has been Assistant Coach at New Zealand sides Central Pulse and Northern Mystics and hasheldthe assistant position for New Zealand. She has worked under some top names and all that knowledge will be passed on to her Scottish side made up of youth and experience.

Paratais thought to be strong on processes, strategies and game plans and is expected tohand Captain Claire Maxwell her 100thCap during the World Cup.

Author: Debbie Laycock is a UKCC Level 2 qualified coach and has experience in coaching netball to participants from 2 years old to 102 years old, from grass roots to performance pathway athletes. Her passion for the game is infectious and she has held done a number of professional and voluntary roles in coaching and organisation.  Debbie is also a ‘C’ Award umpire and plays netball (when not injured) for Meon Netball Club in Hampshire.  Recently Debbie has set up Netball in the Community; giving netball opportunities to the people of Portsmouth and Coaches Network;  a supportive space for local netball coaches to share best practice, gain support and help each other out, on their netball coaching journeys.  Debbie will be at the Netball Work Cup in Liverpool and looks forward to catching up with the netball family, as well as seeing England take Gold!