As the Runners Up coach for Division 1 in the Victorian Netball League, Jarrad Walker was rewarded with the opportunity to coach the Division 1 Team of the Year.
Walker has written a brief piece about his experience, please read below:
On Wednesday 29 July the Victorian Netball League Division 1 Team of the Year participated in a game against the visiting Under 19 England Team.
As I arrived at the venue I was reminded by our Netball Victoria High Performance Coordinator Hayley Van Den Boom that this was our last opportunity to inflict a defeat on the touring England team before they left the following day, having won all the previous matches. No pressure I was told!
As the coach of the team for the event, the opportunity to work with some of the best identified athletes from within our Victorian Netball League pathway was very exciting.
Having coached Wilson Storage Southern Saints Division 1 team across the season, the players were familiar to me as in many situations we had to come up with strategies of how to negate the players impact during our games.
Being that there was no training before the event a lot of time was spent for the girls getting to know who each other was and building a game plan together that would suit our athletes strengths and abilities.
The game itself was a highly skilled battle that was played at an intense pace across the whole four quarters.
The English side were quite polished and clearly had established connections operating on court. The Division 1 team settled quicker than I would have expected into their game plan and un-tested combinations across the court to stick with the English side across the first half of the match.
Changes were made at half time to ensure that all athletes had the opportunity to see court time.
The benefit of watching the first half of the game unfold and an adjusted game plan to suit the incoming players for the second half saw the Division 1 team gain the upper hand across the third quarter and build a lead out to as much as 10 goals at one stage.
A lapse of concentration in the final five minutes of the game saw the English side close the gap to 3 goals before our girls snapped back into action to run out the final minutes to maintain the 3 goal buffer.
Working with the Division 1 athletes across the breaks throughout the match really reinforced to me how exceptional and different all our athletes are that we have in our Victorian Netball League pathway.
The girls were always open to feedback and were quick to implement any adjustments and built their confidence as a team quickly across the match.
From a coaches perspective the opportunity to coach a Team of the Year side in an actual game was an fantastic opportunity and highlighted the talented personnel that we have within the Victorian Netball League including coaches and players.