21st July 2019. When Noeline Taurua became Silver Ferns coach, that would have been the date she would have written down in bold, underlined and committed to memory. The Echo Arena in Liverpool will host the third and fourth playoff followed by the final, in the fifteenth Netball World Cup.
2018 has been a year of well documented lows for the team. Last Sunday was an isolated high, beating the Australian Diamonds 55-44 in Hamilton, before normal service was resumed in Wellington Thursday night, the Diamonds victorious 58-47.
In between games, there was renewed optimism. I lost count of the number of times I read or heard words to the effect of ‘the Silver Ferns will need to win by 14 goals if they’re to capture the Constellation Cup’. Eh? Hang on….
I’ve been watching Sport for a long time, but now, more than ever, reactions seem to go from one extreme to the other, based on a single performance, an unexpected result. How often do we see it when the All Blacks lose? Social Media and Sport are irreversibly intertwined and as a result fans all over the world are sharing opinions, agreeing, disagreeing; understandably those opinions are bound to be varied in nature, and reach every extreme.
It must be very difficult for players and coaches now. Back in the day, if they were the subject of debate, they might say, ‘I don’t read the newspapers’, and they could well be telling the truth and be completely oblivious to public opinion but now they’d have to say, ‘I haven’t looked at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, read the newspapers or seen any tv coverage’ and given how much of our daily lives these things occupy, that’s a pretty difficult thing to achieve. So many high profile players are willingly on Social Media for goodness sake.
Everyone’s entitled to an opinion based on what they’ve taken on board; that’s one of the things that makes Sport so great. In life now there are more distractions than ever. The job for coaches like Noeline Taurua (and her players) is somehow interacting with the media, the public, before during and after matches, riding the hi’s and lo’s, improving performance and achieving results, knowing one day you’ll be the cream of the crop and on another, the lowest of the low. It must be tough. The fact of the matter is though, that’s the world we live in now; it’s part of the job, so don’t expect too much sympathy. Can you handle it though? That’s the bigger question and it’s one of the things that separates the good from the great; I’m not saying the Silver Ferns will win the World Cup next year, but given Noeline’s abilities she’ll get them closer than anyone else would be able to, and she will do it her way, wherever is said by me, you or anyone else over the next nine months.
That’s her job and she’s bloody good at it.
Follow Aiden on Twitter