|Role:||Head Coach to the Fiji Netball Team|
For current Fiji Pearls’ head coach, Kate Carpenter, there’s a sense of familiarity finding herself back in the Pacific Islands.
Carpenter’s first international appointment was at the helm of Papua New Guinea’s national netball side, when she was working at their National Sports Institute in Goroka in 1993 – now fast forward 23 years, and Carpenter is on the precipice of the Netball World Cup SYDNEY 2015 (NWC2015) as head coach of the Fiji Pearls.
“It feels like I’ve come full circle returning to the Pacific Islands,” Carpenter explained. “I have learned so much and now (I am) very fortunate to lead the Fiji Pearls.”
Carpenter was appointed to the helm of Fiji’s most prominent female sporting team in August 2014, just under 12 months out from international netball’s pinnacle event, the NWC2015.
When reflecting on the past 23 years and the exciting 2015 season ahead, Carpenter says that for her, international netball coaching was not necessarily a conscious career choice, but rather an opportunity the she discovered, and embraced.
“I enjoyed the challenge (of coaching) and have kept at it. For me, it is not just a job but a lifestyle… because you’re based overseas, independent of family, friends and home,” she said referring to her home Canterbury in New Zealand. “I’m very internationally influenced.”
Carpenter, has previously coached Singapore (2004-2007 and 2010-2012) and Northern Ireland (2013-2014), and notes the international differences for the sport in returning to the Pacific.
Netball is highly valued in Fiji – as the number one sport for women – and with this comes passionate and engaged fans, and with this high expectations about the performance of the Pearls.
Athletes with raw talent and ability are of abundance in Fiji, as shown by the discovery of teenage defender, Episake Kahatoka, who played a crucial role on debut in Fiji’s Oceania Tri Series campaign.
Carpenter says it’s then a matter of identifying the best coaching techniques for each player in order to create the best environment for team success.
“The younger athletes often learn best from the senior athletes and really benefit from their direction and know how,” Carpenter acknowledged. “Many of our young athletes have exciting starts to their international careers and have literally gone straight into the national squad. It’s important that these athletes stay grounded and understand that there is a lot of hard work and learning ahead of them.”
“Competition both within and outside the Oceania Region is important for the young athletes to experience and understand the demands and expectations of the international game,” she added.
With a mix of young and senior players named in the Pearls’ squad for their development tour of Australasia last month, Fiji are on track to name a team with a balance of youth and experience to take to NWC2015.
Ultimately Carpenter acknowledges that a World Cup year brings with it tough competition from every corner of the globe, but her vision is clear.
“I just want for the Fiji Pearls to be the very best that we can be, and achieve a top-eight ranking.”
SOURCE: netball world cup