Superleague's competitiveness, new Roses and raising the bar globally could drive netball in 2020

Last Updated: 21/01/20 5:13pm

The Superleague has a major role to play when it comes to England continuing to be competitive internationally

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.

The distribution of quality shooters across the league looks positive for 2020

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.

Emerging Roses

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.

Geva Mentor was selected for England at the age of 15 and has been integral to their success since

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.

Global superstar

Will the next 12 months see another player step into Folau's shoes?

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.

International upsets

England and Jamaica are two of the sides taking to court for the Vitality Nations Cup in January

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.

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.

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?

Zimbabwe had an impressive debut at the Netball World Cup but how do we ensure that this isn't a one-off?

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.