Busy 2020 awaits the Deserts Jewelz

By Michael Uugwanga

JULENE Meyer, the coach of Namibia’s senior women netball team – nicknamed The Desert Jewelz – has warned her players that as from January they will be undergoing various training techniques to enable them to reach international fitness standards if they are to compete against some of the world’s best netball playing nations.

Meyer, who guided Namibia to their first M1 Nations Netball Cup in Singapore in October, said the new techniques would help the players attain international standards in preparation for major competitions, such as the World Cup qualifiers or Africa Nations Cup.

Meyer was appointed head coach earlier this year and has already won the hearts of many Namibian netball fans, following the triumph in Singapore, which Namibia saw make her first appearance at the showpiece since 2013, due to financial constraints.

Speaking to Confidente Sport Desk this week, Meyer who also coached in South Africa at university level, said Namibia’s netball players are like unpolished diamonds that need only a bit of polishing to turn into fine gems.

“This was the only competition (M1 Nations Cup) for the players in 2019. Theywill now go into a very strong power, conditioning, polymeric and speed programme. From January they will start advanced skills development; six weeks later they will start technical specialisation and systems to ensure they are ready for international exposure from April.

“If a sponsor gets on board to back these players I would like to have them exposed to international competition at least four times in the next 12 months, starting to challenge ranked teams in fifth place in the world and the one ranked 15th place.

“I do believe my team has the potential to become a force to be reckoned with, to qualify for any tournament on the netball circuit – even a pinnacle event, like the World Cup. These players are sponges for knowledge, they are hardworking, talented, driven and hungry for technical improvements and progress.

“It will take time to develop their structures and different styles but they will be very hard to beat once the mix of talent, discipline, creativity, raw speed and structure with the unique Namibian flair finds its balance in their game. I believe we are the country with the best raw talent that I have ever seen.”

Meyer on the other hand has cautioned her players that there is no room for error, after saying everyone is replaceable on the team. Namibia is still searching for its first World Cup appearance since 1991, the last year they appeared at the global contest that was held in Australia with Namibia’s dream team finishing in 13 position out of 20 participating countries.

Meyer also stressed that if Namibia wants to improve, they will need the help of South Africa by taking part in competitions organised by Netball South Africa.

“There will always be opportunity for outstanding players to become training partners for the national team and my players know if they slack they will be replaced. However, all players who wish to be considered should ensure they come through the system. You have to be seen on the international scene regularly to prove consistency for international pickups.

“Once a year is not enough as you need to play 4-6 tournaments a year to prove yourself. I believe many of the current players will be picked up by international franchises if we can continue to showcase their talent on a regular basis internationally. This will change the lives of these players and the face of netball in Namibia.”