Wednesday, 27 January 2010
Sue Harris Netball NZ CoachForce reports from the Cook Islands
Coach Development at the Pacific Mini Games
Sue Harris, Netball NZ CoachForce, has been working in the Cook Islands.
I was extremely lucky to have been asked to go to the Cook Islands (Rarotonga) recently, to assist coaches in and around the running of the Mini Pacific Games. What a fantastic experience it was!
Prior to the start of the netball tournament at the Mini Games, coaches were invited to attend NNZ’s Player Centered Coaching and Game Analysis modules, as well as an informal session looking at expanding TGfU ideas and developing player pathways/High Performance programmes. It was great to have a large number of local coaches involved with these workshops, including Margaret Matenga (fantastic!) Fiti Tauisi also came across from Samoa to take part for his own professional development. They all really enjoyed the module content, and were very keen to share and try new ideas.
During the tournament I was available to support the coaches of all the competing Countries (Cook Islands, Tokelau, Fiji, Tonga, PNG and Niue). I was also invited to assist team Tonga during one of their training sessions which became one of my highlights during my time over there – they were great fun to work with, and were totally focused on improving their performance and trying new things. After our session, the girls were really keen that I got a photo taken with Cathy, their Goal Shooter. I have no idea why they found it so funny…she’s only about 195cm and I’m at least 159cm!
After my ‘official’ duties at the games were completed I was invited to attend a coaches meeting with one of the local clubs (Avitu). The plan was that we would discuss NNZ’s Player Centered Coaching approach, and also perhaps discuss some development programme ideas. I was expecting 4 or 5 coaches to be there, but found that 9 turned up early and ready to go! A session that was supposed to last for 90 minutes went for well over 2 hours as all of the coaches had plenty of questions and were very keen to explore more of everything. It was a great night and fantastic to see everyone so committed to providing opportunities for their players to grow and develop their netball skills.
Tex who attended our PCC module, and umpired during the Mini Pacific Game’s also coaches the Cook Island Men’s team. This team is affectionately known as the “Fairies” or the “Queenies”. Tex asked me to run a training session for his team just before I left, which turned out to be another great night. By half way through our session, I had 15 players (mixed with the boys were a few girls who had been watching and decided to join in) who always wanted ‘just one more go’ of the TGfU activities we were practicing. The only reason we finished (some 20 minutes later than scheduled) was because the sun had dropped so far, we couldn’t see the goal posts any longer. They really enjoyed the Player Centered/TGfU style of coaching, and after initially being a little reluctant/nervous to answer questions or make suggestions, towards the end of the session they were more than ready to give an opinion to me, or to anyone else prepared to listen!
If I was asked to sum up my time in the Cook Islands in 5 words I would have to use words like: friendly, open, keen, hospitable and food. I’m sure I piled on a couple of kilos in excess baggage due to the endless supply of food everywhere we went! I felt it would have just been rude not to try everything. Unfortunately for me (and my waistline) I liked everything, from Poke to Ika Mata to Taro to Paw Paw!
So on my return, I’ve asked myself a few questions:
Was this trip worthwhile from a work perspective? Definitely.
Do I feel NNZ’s presence at the Mini Pacific Games was valuable? Absolutely.
Do I believe that the coaches from this region are open and receptive to learning and developing their coaching?
Without a doubt.
Would I be keen to go back? In a heartbeat.
(And one more…..Is Weight Watchers phone number in the phone book?)