In what turned out to be a great year for the sport, the Cook Islands’ U21 side travelled to Botswana in July for the World Youth Cup, and put in some admirable performances on the way to finishing 12th out of 20 teams.
That earned six players promotion to the senior squad, which then won the Nations Cup in Singapore later in the year.
“I thought that the national team did fantastic, winning the competition,” said Glassie. “They came up against a tough Swaziland team, and they were incredibly physical, but our Black Pearls were able to come out on top.
“The success of that tournament came from the successes that we’ve had through development, and we are certainly pretty happy to be building on the talks we had three years ago.”
It was then that Glassie took over as coach of the U21 team, and became the assistant coach of the Black Pearls.
He also presented Netball Cook Islands with his vision for the U21 team, with a key goal to develop home-based players and to give them the chance to make a career out of the sport.
“We would like to see them potentially make the Pearls, and go on to have a professional career as a netballer in the leagues that are popping up all over the world,” he explained.
“Singapore, Europe, as well as New Zealand and Australia - those leagues all have players from the Pacific, so we’re hoping to give some of our players an opportunity to become a professional athlete.”
He said that although the concept of being a professional netballer is still fairly new, many of the girls were keen.
Glassie also gets the sense that netball is growing within the Cook Islands, despite a two-year hiatus during which the Black Pearls played no international games. Now they have returned to action he says it is imperative that the players continue to participate in the high-level competitions.
“We shocked a lot of nations and showed that we can perform, but consistency wise, we need to keep going to these sorts of competitions.”
In terms of continued development for 2018, the main goal for NCI is the World Cup qualifiers that take place later this year in Auckland.
“April’s qualifiers in New Zealand are going to be major. It’s going to be a tough comp for them, but if they do their work there’s no reason that they can’t be successful.
“The World Cup is always something you want to try and achieve, but in saying that, we do still have a lot of young players in the squad, so we’ll see how we go.”
Prior to that however, the more immediate stages of development will be taking place this week.
A workshop that will give full accreditation for foundation level coaching will be held today, tomorrow and Saturday for any interested parties.
NCI’s game development director Kopu Anguna encouraged all coaches to participate, saying it would be great to have all the coaches accredited before the season starts.
The workshops will begin at 4.30pm today and tomorrow, and 9.45am on Saturday.
“This development that we’re implementing is for coaches to sustain a higher level of netball and continue to build for the future,” Glassie said.