Netball happy with ‘morale booster’

Tuesday December 19, 2017 Written by Published in Netball

The Nations Cup victory in Singapore over a week ago will boost the morale of the national players in lead up to the Oceania Qualifiers, says Cook Islands netball coach Dale Atkinson.

 

The Oceania Qualifiers which are expected to be held in Auckland, New Zealand in August next year, is the World Netball Championship’s regional qualifying event.

In the tournament, the Cook Islands will need to finish in the top two from a pool of teams which include the likes of Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and Papua New Guinea.

Coach Atkinson said the Nations Cup win was a perfect platform for their build-up to this upcoming qualifiers.

“When you work a lot on the team aspects so that the girls can bond and we had a big age gap - the youngest being 16 and the oldest 35, so we worked hard on that and all of the game plan structure,” Atkinson told Radio New Zealand.

“I think because their confidence is up now and they believe in what they’re capable of achieving I think that we’re in a really good space and the key is to actually build on that.

“So it was a really broad group of teams and from that aspect the experience and knowledge that we’ve gained for me as a coach as well as the players has been huge.”

The Black Pearls had a “perfect tournament” at the Nations Cup which ended more than a week ago after finishing the weeklong event unbeaten.

The team defeated Swaziland 39-38 in a hard-fought final on December 9 to make it six straight wins

They also beat the African side during the group stage and overcame Malaysia, Hong Kong, Ireland and Singapore in their earlier matches.

“It was a perfect result and the other countries all had a ranking, Singapore being the highest with 19 - so we were pretty happy, naturally, with the outcome,” Atkinson said.

“Of course we’ve got two more games to go before we formally get a ranking and hopefully we’re looking to do that for the World (Cup) qualifiers in April next year.

“I know they kind of call it a second-tier tournament but that’s what we want - you want to start building at that level, so it was a great opportunity.

“It was also an opportunity for us to play different styles: Ireland (from the) Northern Hemisphere, Swaziland being African and then of course the Asian countries.”

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