It was (very!) early Friday morning that 40 excited girls boarded a plane to Perth, Australia, to compete in the 2017 'Smarter than Smoking' Association Championships 3 day tournament.
Four Sport Ready teams were to compete against the best representative netball teams in Western Australia! Held at the Wembley Sports Park, the tournament attracted almost 270 teams from close to 40 Associations across the State, with more than 13,000 people in attendance across the WA Day long weekend.
Competition was tough! The games were fast paced, intense and a lot more physical than we were used to - but our Sport Ready girls stepped up, fought hard, played some beautiful netball and achieved some excellent results.
The coaches all agree that each and every girl developed over the duration of the tournament. Initial intimidation gave way to strong, smart netball. Teamwork was essential and the girls forged supportive friendships both on and off the court.
Special thanks must go to our (very busy!) physio Charlie, for taking such good care of our girls. Thanks also to Lisa, Annerly and Saadiah our team managers who ensured players and coaches were at the correct court at the right time (no easy feat).
Coach: Emily Smith
"An excellent result from a team who haven't played together before. Our pool was very evenly matched, every game came down to the last few minutes, with our girls fighting hard for every ball. After getting off to a great start with a win in our first game, we narrowly lost the 2nd (though, we won the 2nd half). Our first day ended with a draw and sadly we lost Jacqui for the rest of the tournament with a rolled ankle. Day two started with another draw, and the girls learned the value of a proper warm up. A loss to a very well-drilled Fremantle team followed and we dug deep to pull out a win in our last game of day 2. Day three we finished on a high, beating Joondalup in a thrilling game, holding our nerve to quell a last minute come back with excellent defence, shooting and composure. I am happy to say we achieved our team goals, and it was great to see each player work to achieve their own personal goals. I was impressed with the level of encouragement, trust, calmness under pressure and teamwork displayed both on and off the court."
MVP Award - Ananya Thorpe
Development Excellence - Bella Kinnon
Coach: Jo Khan
"I had the pleasure of working with the U14B team for the Perth tour. We started with a healthy team of 10 who impressed me with their commitment and preparation leading into the tour. Along with attending the Sport Ready training sessions and tour sessions many signed up for the Saturday ReadyActiv sessions to work on their endurance and agility.
Sadly the day before we flew we lost Marit to injury - all activities involving horses, trampolines or anything where the feet are not in contact with the ground should be banned for the 2 weeks leading into tour!
The first day of games left us a little shell shocked as the speed and skills of the opposition in decision making and transition were impressive. We also lost another player, Nicola, to a muscle strain. The second day of play we came out fighting to have great games against Perth, Northham and Swan districts. We also secured our first well deserved win of the tournament. Day 3 saw the return of Nicola and of course the all important game against the coaches and officials. A big thanks to Tamzin and Nicola for captaining the team and Alisha for stepping in when Nicola was out for injury. It was great to watch the development in all the girls as the weekend progressed. Such a lovely group of girls who fought hard in every game. Im looking forward to seeing them take their new knowledge back to their schools and club. Awesome work ladies!
PS The team also had great success off court by winning the tour team sing-off with an amazing rap they wrote about the tour."
Development Excellence Awards to: Hannah Williams & Charlotte Ion.
Coach: Gemma Shepherd
"The majority of the girls in the team had not been on tour before so it was an exciting opportunity for the team to gain exposure to very tough competition and challenge themselves physically and emotionally. The girls played two extremely tough games to top teams in the pool on day one, but kept positive and confident going into day two where they had their first very exciting and narrow one goal win. The girls finished strong on day 3 where they pulled out another 9 goal win, finishing 6th in their pool. It was positive to see the girls achieve many of their team goals and personal goals on court. Great to see so much improvement over the course of tournament as well as developing strong bonds and friendships off the court."
Joint MVP Awarded to: Imogen Woodward & Sarrah Herrudin
Coach: Sam Atkinson
"I was lucky enough to coach the U13B team which was a pleasure. The girls worked hard leading up to the trip attending trainings and the team bonding with real zeal. Most of my girls were very young and have not played together before however they worked hard to get know each other and were extremely positive both on and off court. With 11 girls in the team balancing positions was challenging however i was very proud of the determination and good humour all the girls showed when thrown into positions they had not spent much time in. Overall we found as a team the Australian girls were bigger and stronger physically but we worked hard to improve the speed of our decisions and court spacing movements to start to really compete with these teams over the weekend. A special mention to both my Captain Janaya and Vice Captain Subbhna who ran the warm ups and keep the whole team spirit high. It was fantastic to finish the tournament with a strong win but more importantly was that every girl played her best in the final game after a tiring and hard fought weekend. A great learning experience for all and a joy to spend time with a talented and friendly group of girls."
MVP Award - Jessica MacRae
Development Excellence - Maya Patel