Severn Stars’ new coach has spoken of her ambitions for the side to reach the top.
Mo’onia Gerrard said she was looking at a top four finish in the new professional netball team’s first season in the Vitality Netball Superleague and beyond that, the sky’s the limit.
The former Australian Diamonds star said she hoped the team, a new franchise run by the University of Gloucestershire and University of Worcester, would produce players that could make a difference to the national side too.
The 35-year-old, who moved to the UK two weeks ago, says her ambition is to build a title contending team.
Mo’onia said: “I want to win the first year but I know I have got to just reign in a bit. Realistically I just want us to be in the top four and be really competitive from then on. Beyond this year, 2018, 2019, we’ll be right up there challenging the top teams. I want to be the club that everyone wants to go to, says how good is that programme, look how they’re looking after their players.”
Recruitment is already underway for the 12 players Mo’onia must assemble, of which two can be from abroad. Trials will be held on 14 and 21 September at the University of Worcester Arena, where the team will initially train and play matches. Upon completion of new facilities at the University of Gloucestershire’s Oxstalls campus in Gloucester, hosting of home games will be shared.
Mo’onia said they were looking at both international and local players and she had a team in mind that looked competitive.
She said: “I’m not too worried about how we look on paper, but I am worried about how we get along and play netball. That’s where I come in. I hope I’ll be one of those coaches that inspire and encourage and develop players that come through and maybe make a difference in the England netball team. I’m sure there are a couple of locals that are knocking on the door, hoping to get that opportunity. I’m hoping that Severn Stars are the team that will help get them to the top.”
Mo’onia, who played 68 test matches for Australia and helped her team to 2007 and 2011 Netball World Cup success and 2010 Commonwealth Games silver, has been coaching teams in Australia for the last three years.
She believes her playing background gives her the edge. She said: “As a player I know what it’s like being on the court and fighting to the last minute, the last second. As a coach I have now got to manage people – that will be a new challenge. I bring experience, obviously, but I just want to bring the girls back to enjoying netball. You’ll see a different type of team here I think compared to the other teams because the type of player I am is a little bit different. I want everyone to fight for each other because we’re a family.”