Witham Hall 1st VII Netball Report – Lent term 2015

31 Mar 2015

Good teams become great ones when all the team members trust each other and swap the ‘me’ for ‘we’.  This is a team that have become ‘we’ and ‘we’ have moved forward to produce some of the finest play I have seen at Witham at first team level.  There is an old saying about the strength of the wolf is the pack and I think there is a lot of truth in that.  In a team, it’s not the strength of the individual players, but it is the strength of the unit and how they all function together. This team has belief, trust and respect for each other, which has certainly been a strength that has taken us to new heights.

The season kicked off with an Invitational tournament, where there was some very tough opposition; Swanbourne, Bedford, Kimbolton and Queenswood.  We won all four games convincingly and won the tournament, which was a good start to the girl’s netball season.  Oundle was our next game, which we won 25-6, followed by St Hugh’s winning 24-2 and Spratton Hall winning 20-1.  Witham’s toughest teams on the circuit were just before half term and just after, which was good preparation for the IAPS tournament.  Stamford High School was a very tall, skilful team and Witham had to work hard.  Valuable lessons were learnt in this game, which was not to be beaten before you’ve started!  Within 3 minutes of the starting whistle, Witham were down by 3 goals, which was the best position to be in.  After a very direct team talk, Witham knew what they had to do.  Within 5 minutes, Witham were winning 5-3, which was the ‘belief’ journey that would last them throughout their remaining games.  We won that match 15-6, which was the turn-around Witham needed.  The next game was Oakham.  Again, a very tall team (mind you, every team was taller than us!) and very athletic.  After a loss last year at Under 12 level, it was Witham’s turn to win this game and they did 16-7. Witham were strong heading into half term and on top of their game.  With just two games left before IAPS, Witham were in a good position to move into that tournament with self-belief and confidence.  We played St John’s, Cambridge and won 13-11; the girls last game before the tournament was Stoneygate, which we won 18-8.  Witham were well prepared for their next task…the IAPS.

It was going to be a real test of what individuals were about.  In our section we played 6, won 6. This included a thrilling encounter and win against an unbeaten Bilton Grange side, who were in the top 5 in the country at Under 12 level last year!  Defensively, we were as strong as I have ever seen a Witham defensive pair, which triggered off flow, flair and pace through to the shooters.  Witham went through to the next stage, where we played Sedbergh School, who went through to National finals last year - a very slick, tidy side.  Witham just couldn’t get the flow of their play going because of the strong defensive play by Sedbergh.  We lost and therefore were out of the tournament.  Disappointing, when Witham had only lost one game throughout the day, but that is how sport is.  On return, after a long, restful weekend and getting ourselves back on track physically and mentally, Witham went on to play an under 14A Peterborough High School which we won convincingly and then playing our final game of the season against Bourne Academy U14A, which we won 24-2.  Therefore, the team finished playing 20 games this season; winning 19 and losing only one game and winning all our interschool fixtures.  Not a bad set of results.

Our IAPS experience is always going to be tough, playing in a regional section that is one of the strongest nationally.  The standard of play must not be judged on whether you go to the Nationals or not, it should be judged on the quality of play and the display you put on every time you get on that court.  This team constantly put on a fine display and I believe I have coached an Under 13 side that is good enough to be in the top ten in the country.

The key is not the will to win – everyone has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important.  IAPS Tournaments, Inter school matches come and go, but it is the lessons you have learnt that will make you stronger and the player that you can be. My first team just wasn't good enough in their final IAPS match, but they had the unity I always wanted and the hunger for success in their eyes. To have a Witham team like this to work with has been an honour and has been certainly a highlight of my coaching career.

Most Improved Player Cup – Catherine Swanston

Player of the Season – Poppy Chatterton

Mrs J R Welch

Lent Term 2015