England Roses head coach Jess Thirlby hails Superleague performances
Live Vitality Netball Superleague coverage continues on Monday when London Pulse host Celtic Dragons live on Sky Sports Arena, Mix and YouTube from 6.45pm
By Emma Thurston
Last Updated: 09/03/20 9:09am
England's Vitality Roses head coach Jess Thirlby has hailed players taking their opportunities and stepping up at the start of a new Vitality Netball Superleague season.
The national coach's perspective was shared directly after Pulse beat Surrey Storm 51-50 in a whirlwind of a Round Two match live on Sky Sports.
Pulse raced 19-6 up after the first 15 minutes before losing the second and third quarters before an intense finish followed, and a final quarter which contained some majestic moments, particularly from 17-year-old defender Funmi Fadoju.
"Everyone in a team has the ability to lead whatever the age, stage, experience, position," the Roses' head coach said on social media.
"Some great examples in Superleague. Love finding ways to enable players to lead and mobilise those leaders around them. Be the gatekeepers of the culture you want to live.
Everyone in a team has the ability to lead whatever the age,stage, experience, position.Some great examples of that in the @NetballSL tonight. Love finding ways to enable players to lead and mobilise those leaders around them 🙌🏻 Be the gatekeepers of the culture you want to live— Jess (@JessThirlby) March 2, 2020
"Creating environments and cultures where everyone does it [steps up], irrelevant of their age or stage of their career, is something that I'm really passionate about as a coach," Thirlby added, speaking to Sky Sports.
"I loved how that translated into that particular game. Funmi [Fadoju] was one obvious example, but I thought that throughout there were moments and pockets of examples which showed that everyone can play a part.
"And, it doesn't have to be that traditional model where you have one or two people or the more known names and faces [stepping up]. "
"There was a real lesson to be learned there around remembering it's what we can all do."
After a whirlwind start as England's new head coach, which included tours to New Zealand and Australia, South Africa and a home Vitality Nations Cup, Thirlby has dived into the more strategic elements of her role.
The start of the new Superleague season has given her a chance to take in the talent available to her and despite only two rounds having been played, the picture has been a positive one.
"The intent that teams have shown, being brave and putting themselves out there, has been excellent," Thirlby said.
"They've put themselves out there, like Saracens Mavericks saying that they won't be coming fifth again and sharing their want to win the competition.
"I love all of the stories behind the league, hopefully it will keep driving the attention and help the sport."
Funmi an absolute pleasure to provide you with your Superleague debut. You have so much fun ahead 🎉💕— samantha bird (@BirdBeers) February 23, 2020
One key feature of the first few rounds has been the presence of England's younger players and the opportunities they've had on court. Fadoju at Pulse has been joined by the likes of Jasmin Odeogberin and Alice Harvey in gaining game time.
Despite preparing to stand down from the role of England's U21 head coach, due to conflicts between the U21 and Superleague calendar, Karen Greig is still incredibly pleased to see members of her young Roses group on court.
"The fact that so many [U21s] are getting game time already bodes well for the future," Greig said.
"I know that Loughborough have had some injuries, so they've been forced to play some of their players, but the girls have been holding their own, which is great to see.
"A lot of these players have come through the franchises and I'm there to assist them to be the best that they can within that England environment. Hopefully I've had some impact in the short time that I've had them and I'm excited to see them develop."
The excitement that Greig feels is shared by Thirlby, who also is acutely aware of her role when it comes to introducing these players to senior netball at the right time.
"The Roses player group is a pretty dynamic player group and you've seen some of the young talent out in Superleague too," the head coach said.
"I'm not saying that all of that [the young talent] is ready now but it's a really healthy place to be.
"There are also players who were at the World Cup, who have yet to return to the programme but are very much looking forward to doing that.
"They'll be joining those who have fronted up on the national scene recently and with those young players underneath it. The sport is in a really healthy place."
Coverage of the Vitality Netball Superleague season continues with Round Three on Monday, March 9 when London Pulse entertain Celtic Dragons. Join us on Sky Sports Arena, Mix and YouTube from 6.45pm.