Compiled by Jenny Sinclair, Andrew Kennedy and Katrina Nissen.
Day 8 – Friday 19th July
It was a quieter day at the M & S Bank Arena, with some of the ranking games and minor finals taking place. Despite the top four teams having a rest day, fans still packed into the stadium to watch a unique range of African, Caribbean and Asian styles on court.
WHAT CAUGHT OUR EYE
After the match between Jamaica and Zimbabwe, the African nation started dancing with their fans. The Jamaican players were in the mood for a party, and joined in the fun. While Jamaica may have taken out the match, in this dance off everyone was a winner.
With accommodation so close to the venue, the Liverpool Netball World Cup has been a wonderful fangirl opportunity for many, who’ve quickly worked out where their favourite teams are staying. Former netball greats stroll the waterfront, rubbing shoulders with awestruck fans.
At a luncheon Netball SA President, Cecilia Molokwane, Western Cape Minister for Sport and Cultural Affairs, Anroux Marias and City of Cape Town Mayoral Committee Member, Jean-Pierre Smith presented South Africa’s plans for the 2023 Netball World Cup.The plan is to deliver a diverse, culturally rich event that celebrates the unique flavour of the African continent.
The venue is centrally located on the Cape Town waterfront, with accommodation within close walking distance.
NSA is building new courts across South Africa to provide greater playing opportunities for girls and women, and this will be part of their NWC legacy.
ON THE INJURED LIST
South African Bongiwe Msomi has confirmed that her ankle injury won’t stop her from taking to the court tomorrow in a huge semi-final against world number one, Australia.
Romelda Aiken (Jamaica) missed a number of games back in Australia, after sustaining a stress reaction (precursor to a stress fracture) in her left lower leg. After a number of weeks in a moon boot back in Australia, she’s shown no sign of being hampered by the problem at the Netball World Cup.
Aiken said, “It’s going well. Fingers crossed that when I go back to Brisbane and get my scan that it shows my leg is back to normal. I feel like I’m moving a lot better, reading the game a lot better. I’m giving it a bit of extra loving, but there’s not much pain going through it like there was seven weeks ago. It’s back to normal now.”
WHO WAS SPOTTED IN THE CROWD
Dan Ryan – Head Coach, Northern Ireland, and commentator.
On the World Cup experience: “It’s been amazing. Many mixed emotions, many different experiences, relentless work hours, but I’ve really enjoyed being part of a World Cup from a coaching perspective and working with the Northern Ireland girls.”
“I came into this World Cup making sure that I did take time to enjoy the moment of being here. Only 16 coaches get the chance to represent a national team at a World Cup, and it’s been eight years since Northern Ireland have played in one, so it’s been a privilege, I’ve really enjoyed every moment and have learned a lot.”
What is the cultural difference between coaching in Australia and Northern Ireland: “One of the biggest things I’ve tried to implement with this group is building the structure and strategies in the way we play the game on the court but also how we communicate, how we prepare mentally off the court as well. Getting really comfortable with awkward and uncomfortable performance based conversations. Things that you are expected to do in an Australian system and are really important for progress when it comes to performance. Making sure the players really appreciate the mental, emotional and psychological preparation as much as the physical.”
“I guess some of the Northern Ireland culture is to not address the issues but to let them go and move on to the next thing, whereas I felt that at times we needed to have some uncomfortable conversations to make progress. The players have become much more open minded in that approach.”
What Dan has made of the top four teams so far: “It was so good to see both teams tested and under pressure. I think both teams performed, and both coaches would be incredibly happy with what they saw, but have enough intell to take away to be really prepared if they do meet in a gold medal match. Australia laid their cards out with their starting line up, but is that the line up they will play in a semi-final or gold medal match with the quality they have on the bench? Who knows?”
“I thought Noeline (Taurua) coached that game against the Diamonds beautifully. Every time the game looked like slipping away, and out of reach, she pulled some changes, and the impact those players made coming on to court was immediate. Their ability to do that is a sign of a team that really trusts and believes in their coach and themselves and each other.”
“I think England were a level above South Africa yesterday. They were unbelievably ruthless last night, and the way they’re playing it’s going to be very hard to stop them.”
Sara Symington – Performance Director, England Netball
On having two different groups of players – based in England and in the Southern hemisphere. “Everyone’s had their different challenges. We’ve had respective leagues happening at different times in different places on the calendar. But ultimately everyone had the same amount of preparation, we had girls coming in at the last minute. We had a group in the UK that we had to almost bootcamp back up into fitness. It’s been a bit of a jigsaw, but ultimately you’ve got to deal with the hand you’ve been given.”
On liaising with players at clubs in Australia and New Zealand: “We’ve gone out there every March/April and travelled round every single club..It really starts to build up the relationships with the players, understand who they are and what they want. Also getting to know who the head coaches are, the sports scientists, the medical staff, so that as and when you do need to have some of the conversations or challenges come up, you’ve got a better connection, you’ve got a better relationship, and that’s been a big part of what we’re trying to do better.”
Having English players in Australian and New Zealand leagues: “It’s helped, there’s no two ways about it. You can see the intensity of the league, they’re going out and playing hard matches every single week.For all of them, not only on an individual perspective, but a collective, it’s helped support what we’re trying to do.”
On players retiring or having a break after the Netball World Cup: “A lot of that planning is already in place or taking place. A lot of that has been scoped out in the nine months leading up to this, so that we know what the next four years looks like.”
“Year one, year two is about a rebuild and a refocus, and that is exactly what we’ll be doing here. It’s about growing and giving more opportunities to that younger Tier 2/3 player.”
Your hopes for netball after the World Cup: “It becomes more the psyche of the nation, whether it’s an eight year old, or an 80 year old…also the growth of the Superleague and whether there is more available income, wider sponsorship or more commercial partners…It’s very much about building on what we’ve done. ”
NETBALL – A GLOBAL GAME
With netball becoming more of a global game, friendships have formed between players from a range of nations. They don’t always catch up often, so when they do, it’s special. Netball Scoop brings you some of the reunions.
15TH VERSUS 16TH
Sri Lanka 78 defeated Singapore 57
The two Asian teams had met many times before and the friendly rivalry resumed in their placings playoff. Both had improved greatly over the tournament but some of their key players had amassed many quarters of tough netball before their final match. The result would hinge on Singapore interrupting the flow towards 6 foot 9 Sri Lankan shooter Sivalingam, and on both teams reducing their error rate.
The Sri Lankans mostly enjoy the footspeed and height advantage, and especially having long arms which made vision and drives difficult for Singapore. Through this Sri Lanka got more clean intercepts, and they were able to play more directly down court. Their plan A was for goal attack Mendis to lob from far off the circle to Sivalingam. However it was clear that the shooter had limited agility and jump, and the feed very often did not come above the head, rather it came to the chest or head height, and the Singaporean defenders Nair, Teo, and Toh were ever-ready to pounce. When their timing was right, they did earn Singapore possession, but the work was negated by the team committing seven more turnovers than the opposition.
During the third term Singapore brought on mobile goal attack Kai Wei Toh, and the faster shooting circle rotation gave them the victory for the last quarter, 17-13. The final result saw Sivalingam with 77/85 (91%) but captain of Singapore Soh showed creativity and tenacity, scoring 37/40 (93%). In a nice final gesture, Soh embraced her opposing keeper, Jayasooriya, also the Sri Lankan captain, and they spoke about their relationship:
Chathurangi Jayasooriya, Sri Lanka captain, goal keeper “Last Asian championships we played, and before it a friendly match, so actually we [Jayasooriya and Soh] are both very nice friends, we talk to each other and we played good. We studied them as well in their playing style, so I think this is a good bond between us associations. She’s a really nice player and she has good quick movements, that’s very hard to play her, so actually when we are playing also we talk something! When I’m hitting like hard her she says ‘you are very strong!’.
Charmaine Soh, Singapore captain, goal shooter “We have been friends for a very long… [laughs] I mean okay like, rivals on court, and friends out of court! So it’s really nice to play them, I mean we know each other’s style of play really well. Definitely she has very long arms, she’s very lengthy, she’s very tight on the defence, and it’s always nice to play someone that you kinda know off court and on court. She was very tight, and she’s a good defender.”
13TH VERSUS 14TH
Samoa 53 defeated Fiji 42
The Polynesian showdown for final placings showed the contrast between teams – Fiji with considerable height and strength in the two circles, with less developed timing and match awareness; and Samoa, short, fast, and well-drilled, many of their athletes living and playing in New Zealand leagues. After winning the first quarter by two, Fiji had a total disaster in the second, losing 3-14. Samoa had made only attacking changes, bringing on To’o to goal attack and putting Salanoa back to shooter, with Nu’uali’itia at wing attack, but it was their full-court defensive endeavours that were the big difference, taking 8 intercepts and squeezing 14 turnovers out of the opposition in just 15 minutes.
The very different movement patterns caused constant collisions, both accidental and intentional, and bodies were lying all over the deck like a wrestling match. Usually it was the Samoan shooters being smacked to the ground by the very large Fijian defenders Nawai, Bolakoro, and Kahatoka, however worst off was Samoan wing defence Ropati who lay on the ground for two minutes after she contested a ball and came off second best. The Samoan shooters were doing a marvellous job of getting front position and sometimes sneakily offloading to their partner, even above the huge reach of the Fijians. However, the Fiji shooters Panapasa and Rauluni got organised again and won the third by two goals.
The stage was set for a close finish. Even though it was 38-31 to Samoa, the momentum was clearly with the Pearls. They pushed forward, finding Panapasa much more regularly at first, until Samoan coach Solia made midcourt changes, and more Fijian errors crept in. The feeds to the tall target shooter went long, or she landed off balance and stepped. The Samoans improved the margin over their meeting in the pools, winning 53-42.
Gene Solia-Gibb, Samoa captain, goal defence “I’m so stoked, taking the title of first in the Pacific. Our think that’s our strength, we hit the ground, and then we come back on and we play the game, it is the way our bodies are built. I think it helps us play with so much heart and passion for our country. We really wanted to finish this with a bang and finish on top. [In the second quarter] I think it was great pressure from everyone, from our shooters to our attackers and that’s what lead [sic] our intercepts in the defence end.” “Fijians are actually dangerous defenders, as in, they can get ball from anywhere, they’re very rangy, and we had to play smart, and I think playing the quick ball was at our strength.”
Jamaica 77 defeated Zimbabwe 47
The Jamaican Sunshine Girls have brought their disciplined best against the Zimbabwe Gems in the playoffs.
Jamaica kept their superstar goal keeper, Shamera Sterling, on the bench for the first three quarters of the match, which allowed Kadie-Ann Dehaney to get valuable game time. The young Vixens impact player had a great match, taking 2 intercepts, 4 gains, 6 deflections and 2 rebounds in her 45 minutes of court time.
Speaking after the match, Dehaney was humble about her performance noting she had areas for improvement. “I have a lot of work on. I am not used to starting. I did the best I could but full credit to the Zimbabwe shooters. I would rate my performance a 6. I could have been more physical. I think she dictated my play more than I dictated her. I needed to be disciplined to stay in front and not get the obstructions. My team needed me to stay in play.”
The Sunshine Girls applied a zone style of defence, slowing tightening the noose as the ball was worked closer to the Gems’ goal circle. The method forced 8 turnovers from Zimbabwe’s front line in the first half of play.
The Sunshine Girls didn’t have it all their way, however, as they only converted 40% of the gains they won during the first half of play. Through scrambling pickups they managed to maintain possession for 54% of the time during the first half.
Zimbabwe goal keeper Sharleen Makusha can go home bragging that she took it to one of the world’s best goal shooters in Romelda Aiken. During the early stages of the third term, the Sunshine Girls began to relax knowing they had an almost unretractable lead, so they began to play with some of that Caribbean flare. As Adean Thomas let fly a ball from the centre third, Makusha worked Aiken’s body to get prime position to match it with her in the air – ultimately taking an intercept for her efforts.
Zimbabwe won the third term off the back of some gorgeous mid-range shooting from Joice Takaidza. She also successfully followed the shot to collect the all-important rebounds which were missing in the first half for Zimbabwe.
Shamera Sterling took the court in the fourth term and made immediate impact confusing the space for the Zimbabwe feeders. In her 15 minutes of play Sterling took 2 intercepts, 3 deflections, 2 gains and 1 pickup.
Malawi 55 defeated Uganda 44
There’s a fierce rivalry between these two African nations, and today’s match tested the composure of both sides. Malawi have recently dipped to 9th in the world rankings, below Uganda who sit at 6th. Despite this, Malawi won three of the four quarters to prevail by 11 goals. Takondwa Lwazi was on fire through the centre for Malawi, with 34 goal assists and 56 feeds.
The shooting accuracy from both countries was good, with Uganda leading the way at 94%, in large part due to a 100% performance from captain Peace Proscovia. Malawi sat above 90%, and used just two shooters to Uganda’s four.
African nations play a high possession game, and so this match proved, with centre pass conversion rates sitting at over 70%. There was some lack of discipline with contact penalties a frequent occurrence, both goal defences heavily whistled. Malawi racked up 61 penalties, and Uganda 60 across the four quarters.
Malawi celebrated their win by dancing on court, to the cheers of their many Liverpool fans.
Romelda Aiken – Jamaica.
“It was important to fix small areas that cost us games, but I think we had fun out there today which was good for all of us.”
Joice Takaidza – Zimbabwe on playing against Romelda Aiken.
“It was a really tough game. I was happy with my performance. I manage to continue playing. I just have to keep on fighting.”
The Daily Liverpool Scoop podcast is available at https://www.netballscoop.com/2019/06/daily-liverpool-scoop-podcast/