Netball Expert & Columnist
Halting a drop between major competitions and domestic leagues is vital for female sport
Last Updated: 07/08/19 3:34pm
"For female sports, and all female sports, the big challenge is to carry on the progress and momentum into a domestic league after major competitions. I still don’t think that anybody has properly cracked that yet."
Tamsin Greenway is passionate about sport and extremely passionate about netball, a sport that has been riding a wave a momentum created by the 2018 Commonwealth Games and boosted again by the recent Vitality Netball World Cup in Liverpool.
The Vitality Roses' gold medal on the Gold Coast shook up the world order and took netball to new heights in England.
Greenway, a former international and now world renowned coach and pundit, outlines what she believes needs to happen for netball in England for the sport to continue to grow.
"In this country we love a big competition. We love a World Cup, we love a European Championships, an FA Cup final and title deciders," Greenway said.
"But the week in and week out, the nitty gritty of who is playing where, who is leaving, who performed well and what happened in that fixture? I still don't think has been cracked in any female sport.
"That's where I want to see the lift [in netball]. That lift comes from the players, the coaches, the media and from the fans.
"Fans love to turn out of the big competitions but are they turning out week in and week out, regularly and I don't think that in this country we are yet."
The Vitality Netball Superleague is the heart of the domestic game in England and has already moved forwards since its inception. Greenway herself featured in six Grand Finals and is ardent about seeing the league and domestic netball taking further steps on.
"I think that we've all got a responsibility to think about what people want to hear about and what people want to see. Is it visible enough, if not why not? Why aren't people coming to watch every single week and what can we do about that?
"That's where we need to step up and it starts with the Vitality Netball Superleague transfer window - talking about big names and the coaches and getting know people's personalities."
Superleague set for 2020 signing window
The Vitality Netball Superleague opens its 2020 signing window on August, 1 as the domestic competition looks to raise the bar further.
This season has seen the signing window open for the first time, formally on August 1, and it marks the start of earlier (and hopefully greater) conversations around player and coach movements.
Recently, when the role of England's head coach became available Greenway said she had applied for the position.
She said: "One of the reasons I spoke openly about going for the England job was because my name had already been thrown in to the mix and, well Tracey did mention it live on TV, so kind of had to!! But also, why would I shy away from that?
"I've been a really successful coach in the domestic competition and I think that we should talk about these things and I don't think that it's wrong to show your personality.
"I think that's going to be a big part of this next build [for the sport] which is why the transfer window, for me, is really important. I think that players should be honest about going and why they're going and what they want to achieve, just like they would do it football or rugby.
"Only one team won last year, Manchester Thunder won, so they should be looking at how they retain and how they build and everyone else should be looking at how they can be as good as Manchester Thunder - thinking what am I doing to do in order to do that? Do I need a GA? Is there a GA in this country?
"I just don't think that we talk brutally enough about it. I don't think there's anything wrong about doing that either and I think that's the next part for this journey for netball. It's how we talk about the sport and how we engage in it.
"I'd love people to be on Twitter having conversations about wanting to see this player going there. Also conversations saying, 'I don't think that she played the best under this coach but under this one it may be different'. We don't talk like that and I just think, it's the next part for me.
"I'm a Leicester City fan and all of the chat the minute is Harry Maguire. I do not want him to go to Manchester United but I understand why he wants to go.
"Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has said that he wants him 100 per cent so do whatever it takes. They're the conversations and that's now an ongoing narrative for the sport - we have not got to that stage yet in netball and I hope that's going to."
With the Vitality Netball Superleague's transfer window now open until January 8, the conversations can commence in order to drive the sport's narrative while teams get stuck into pre-season training.
Those conversations have the ability to help halt any some of the natural drop-off that happens after a major tournament.
Alongside them, the British Fast5 Netball All-Stars Championship in October will provide a chance to see players taking to court and combine with on-going coverage of pre-season matches and national topics of conversation regarding Jess Thirlby's rein.
All must combine together in order to help netball do something that, according to Greenway, no other female sport has been able to do yet and that is maintain considerable progress and true momentum after such a high with back-to-back annual competitions.
Netball is back on your screens in October with the Fast5 All Stars Championship. We will cover all the twists and turns of the off-season as the Vitality Netball Superleague teams begin to shape their squads for the 2020 season which you can follow on Sky Sports.