Australian-born Sue Hawkins has been named as England Netball’s new National Coach. Formerly head coach of the Auckland Diamonds, a side in New Zealand’s National Bank Cup competition, Hawkins will take up her new position in February, in time to observe a young England representative squad in competition in the Netball Europe championships.
In addition to her time in New Zealand, Hawkins has also worked as Senior Netball coach at the acclaimed Australian Institute of Sport , and also spent time as the High Performance Manager at the Australian Netball Association. She has also spent four years working as a commentator for the Australian Broadcasting Commission. And, as Nigel Holl, England Netball’s Director of Netball explains, it is this breadth of experience which led to her appointment:
“Sue’s knowledge and understanding of the antipodean style of play, both from her time in Australia and New Zealand, will be vital to ensure that England continues to challenge and learns to defeat the world’s leading teams on a regular basis. As a former international shooter herself, Sue has a wealth of experience which will help our attacking players to continue their recent rapid improvements, and her appointment is designed to build on the progression which the England squad has made in the last four years under her predecessor, Marg Caldow.”
One of Hawkin’s earliest priorities will be to observe England’s squad, comprising U21 and younger National squad members, in action at the Netball Europe championships in Glasgow in February with her first competitive challenge being a three match test series against the emerging stars of Malawi in April. Later in the year, during October,, England will travel to New Zealand to play a series against the Silver Ferns, who will be looking for revenge after England’s surprise win over the Kiwis in May 2007.
Hawkins replaces Marg Caldow, who coached England to a bronze medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games and established the side as a major force in world netball, with seven wins in their last eight international test matches prior to the World Championships. Caldow’s contract ended at the conclusion of the New World Netball World Championships in New Zealand in November, when England’s netballers failed to take the bronze medal by a single goal against Jamaica.
As coach of the Auckland Diamonds, Hawkins was credited with developing a number of emerging New Zealand stars, including Maria Tutaia, Paula Griffin and Jodi te Huna, who were all part of the Silver Ferns squad at the recent World Championships. In addition, her understanding of coach development and management will be key to the development of domestic coaching talent:
“In a wider context, Sue will be liaising closely with the coaches of the England age groups at U17, U19 and U21, as well as the head coaches of the Co-operative Netball Superleague franchises,” says Holl, “to ensure that the national team programme and overall player and coach development is consistently implemented and managed. We had strong applications for this role, from English and overseas coaches, and I am confident that Sue’s appointment will further the progress which England has made in the world game in the past few years.”
England Netball’s Interim Chief Executive Paul Clark is delighted with the appointment: “England has made great progress over the last four years. Sue has the drive and the ability to take us to another level. “
Netball is the world’s most popular team sport for women: it is estimated that more than 1.1 million women and girls play regularly in England alone. England is ranked fourth in the world, following the recent New World Netball World Championships, but holds the Commonwealth Games bronze medal, and was the silver medallist at the last World Youth Netball Championships in 2005.