Stars preparing to shine in inaugural season
When the Northern Stars officially went into orbit in early January, they knew they had a little catching up to do.
They are the only team in the 2017 ANZ Premiership who are starting from scratch; a Club formed expressly to be part of this brand new era of Netball in New Zealand.
The pre-season phase will not only be about building a collection of star players into a cohesive, exciting team. There’s also a new culture to be shaped around this Club, based in the Netball stronghold of south Auckland.And there are lofty goals to develop the athletes off the court as well as on it.
With pre-season training well underway, international recruit - Fijian shooter Afa Rusivakula - has made her new home in Auckland after arriving in late January.
The Northern Stars’ goals for the inaugural year of the ANZ Premiership revolve around player development on many different levels.
“We want to develop robust athletes who are able to cope with the physical and mental demands of elite training and playing regimes,” Hoornweg says.
“We want to develop their technical and tactical skills, and have them strive for personal excellence in sport and life. And we also want to develop successful athletes in a collaborative and supportive team environment.”
It’s vital, too, to build a culture around the new Club that will help to support the Stars’ performance on court.
Within the team, Hoornweg says, there will be an incentive to establish core values and structures from the outset, to give the team “the best chance of establishing a consistently high standard of performance that can be the pillars of success for many years to come.
“It will be about respect, being professional, trusting in each other and having a passion for the game.”
Hoornweg isn’t short of help.She is working with former Silver Ferns midcourt legend Temepara Bailey – in her first coaching role, as the Stars’ assistant coach.She will also call on the experience of Leana de Bruin, who has 138 Test Caps to her name.
“They are two true assets for the team,” Hoornweg says. “The collective knowledge and experience of both of these icons is outstanding, and most impressively, the manner in which they are constantly striving for excellence and innovation coupled with their passion for the game of Netball.”
While the team boasts a dazzling line-up of talent – including Holly Fowler, Fa’amu Ioane and Maia Wilson, who are all in contention for Netball World Youth Cup Gaborone 2017 – it’s not always a given that a star team will naturally be born.
Hoornweg is aware of this, and stresses that everyone in the team – from the athletes, the staff and Club board – need to understand that they are in this together.
“They are all part of a jigsaw that only becomes a clear entire picture when everyone understands their own qualities and strengths, and embraces the uniqueness of those around them,” she says.
“Winning is always the desired outcome at the elite level, but this will be the product of our attitudes, habits, beliefs and expectations, and our ability to go beyond anything we’ve done before.
“Good will not be good enough. We will need to be about excellence.”
The Northern Stars will open their 2017 ANZ Premiership campaign against the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel as part of a blockbuster Super Sunday on March 26 at Claudelands Arena, Hamilton – GET TICKETS.