Netball Expert & Columnist
Superleague's competitiveness, new Roses and raising the bar globally could drive netball in 2020
Last Updated: 07/01/20 1:35pm
Tamsin Greenway shares her wishes for netball in 2020, from the Vitality Superleague to raising the bar globally to drive the sport forward.
Firstly, what I'd like to see is the most competitive Vitality Netball Superleague season that we've ever had.
Over the last couple of seasons, the level of competitiveness has started to change. There's now a core group of teams in the middle who are pushing the top teams, but we've got to start working towards a league where we have goal-for-goal games across the board.
It's easy to say and more difficult to achieve, but for England to continue to be competitive internationally, a focus has to be on making the league as competitive as possible, as swiftly as possible.
Over the years, people have tried to manipulate it in order for that happen. They've looked at saying clubs can only have so many England players in a team or they have used other rule changes to try and do it.
The reality is the only way to get to consistent goal-for-goal matches is through the clubs, coaches and players raising the bar. This happens through training, intensity, tactics and players and coaches understanding of the game, which takes time.
However, I think a key area that will help this season is the natural spread of shooters.
In netball, you always win ball and that's not taking anything away from the defenders. Defenders win you championships, but you have to have that key shooter who is going to help you to get to the magic 50 goals or above, or at least a partnership like a Jo Harten and Helen Housby who do it together.
Casting an eye over the franchises this year, there are key shooters who are going to make a difference across the board and that is a step in the right direction.
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Next, I'd like to see a new centre and a new goal keeper emerging for the Roses over the course of the year because I think those two positions are going to be key for England moving forward.
The Roses are going through a transition, players like Serena Guthrie and Geva Mentor are at different stages in their careers, so the time is now for the next generation to emerge.
England have relied so heavily on Serena and Geva - which isn't a bad thing given their world-class capabilities - but with both having taken/or taking time out, one of the younger players must step up and take England on.
We don't want to get to the end of the year and still be thinking is it going to be Amy Carter, Gabs Marshall or Nat Panagarry as England's new centre? And who is the Roses' next goal keeper?
I'd really like to see those two positions having standout players in them by the end of the season, which means a big year ahead. We need to move into 2021 knowing all about England's next go-to players.
While we are on the subject of players, with the retirement of Maria Folau I want a new global superstar!
It's fair to say that on the court Maria captured the love and attention around the world for her long-range shot, effortless style of play and her coolness under pressure.
There have been very few players who have this status, Maria and Sharni Layton are probably the two that stand out for me. But with both no longer playing, I want to see another player take on brand netball.
Next, in 2020 I would like to see more international upsets and I think that this is the year that we could see them happen.
New Zealand are bringing over a different side for the Nations Cup - one that's without Laura Langman, Casey Kopua and Maria Folau.
South Africa didn't have Karla Pretorius for their last tour while England are still without the likes of Housby and Harten, so you have all of these players who are coming in and out of international sides.
This not only helps to increase the depth of talent within the nations, but it gives an opportunity for the playing field to level out slightly.
Vitality Nations Cup 2020 - All live on Sky Sports
|January 19||England vs New Zealand||Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham|
|Jamaica vs South Africa|
|January 22||England vs South Africa||Arena Birmingham|
|Jamaica vs New Zealand|
|January 25||England vs Jamaica||Copper Box Arena, London|
|New Zealand vs South Africa|
|January 26||1st vs 2nd place match||Copper Box Arena, London|
|3rd vs 4th place match|
When it comes to international teams' development, they need to beat the top sides in order to gain confidence. I remember when I played for England, the first time we ever beat Australia was a game-changer.
When I grew up, England didn't beat Australia, so in your head you never beat Australia - it just didn't happen, and it was always about trying to stay close to them. So, when we first beat them it changed our perception.
Now, we have got a whole generation of players growing up thinking that it's quite common to beat Australia and compete with them. That's a massive shift in culture.
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But the upsets are not just about England creating the waves against the big teams.
For world netball, I'd like to see Jamaica getting their act together because their group is so talented. I'd like to see South Africa pushing on against teams. We know that they can compete in games, but I want them to take that to a new level and follow it through for the win.
I truly think that we've got to have some more international upsets because we want the world netball stage to be a closer one.
I'm a realist and I do know that you're not going to change the world-order straight away. But, there's no reason why, with the amount of coaches, the accessibility of world netball and the global leagues, that teams away from the 'top' ones can't start changing the game.
Global support and funding
My final wish for 2020, which links into the one above to try and make the world game more competitive, is that the world calendar is a priority to help give teams more opportunities against the 'top' nations. This links to the vitally important point of funding too.
How are we going to fund netball within some of the African and Caribbean nations which have such incredibly talented players within them?
Do they need coaching support and development? Do they need more opportunities against high-class teams? Do they need player support at elite and grassroots levels? If the answer is 'yes' to one or all, how does that happen financially? And, how can we help make that happen?
For me, taking players out of their countries or regions to gain opportunities across the world or just putting coaches into countries, aren't necessarily the answers. They're part of it and they help for a short time, but we need long term plans too.
I'm sure that there are conversations going on behind the scenes so I'd love to know about them and ultimately, what we can do to push world netball forward as a brand in 2020.Sky Sports is your home of netball and live action returns with the Vitality Nations Cup in January 2020. The four-nation competition starts on January 19 with England taking on the world champions New Zealand.