By Rob Cole
Welsh Netball has put its money where its mouth is by re-recruiting the highly rated Aussie coach Julie Hoornweg to guide the national side through to the 2020 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
Wales will not be represented at next year’s World Cup in Liverpool, and have slipped down to 11th in the world rankings following their 11th place finish at the Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast in April.
Hoornweg, a former England head coach, was brought in to steer both the Celtic Dragons through their Super League campaign and then Wales into the Gold Coast following the resignation of Trish Wilcox in the wake of the failure to qualify for the World Cup.
She returned to Australia at the end of the season, but has now been enticed back to carry out a single role.
The Dragons will be coached this season by the New Zealander, Tania Hoffman, who has come in from Surrey Storm.
“Everyone at Welsh Netball is thrilled to be welcoming Julie back to Wales,” said Welsh Netball CEO, Sarah Jones .
“In her short spell as interim head coach, she made a huge impression and we are pleased that she will be able to resume the work that she started with Wales.
“Julie’s incredible breadth of knowledge and expertise will be complimented by two very exciting assistant coach appointments.
“These appointments mark the beginning of our campaign towards the next Commonwealth Games. The hard work begins now and the new management team will be working tirelessly to strive for success as the next generation of Wales players takes up the gauntlet towards 2022.”
Hoornweg will be joined by a mixture of new and familiar faces in the senior side’s management team. Working alongside her will be new assistant coach, Sara Hale.
Hale previously played for Wales and Manchester Thunder and in recent years has worked as an assistant coach for the English franchise.
She has also worked under Tracey Neville as a defensive technical coach in the English set-up.
Also joining the management team is fellow assistant coach, Jenna Culley.
Culley has recently worked as Severn Stars Under 21s Head Coach and is Director of Netball at the internationally renowned Millfield School.
The team is supported by returning team manager, Lavinia Baker. Baker also worked with Hoornweg at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and has vast experience in supporting national representative sides at tournaments around the world.
Jones added: “Sara has progressed from player to coach and her defensive expertise will add a lot to the squad.
“Jenna is an expert at nurturing and developing young talent and she will be instrumental to the growth of the national team.
“We are also very pleased that Lavinia will be working with the national team once again. Her organisational and logistical skills are invaluable and she is a great asset to the side.”
Hoornweg began her career as a netball player in the Australian state of Victoria. She then moved into coaching, becoming the Fiji national coach in 1997.
She was awarded Fiji Coach of the Year in 1998 and was made an Officer of the Order of Fiji in 1999.
Recognised with an Australian Sports Medal in 2000, Hoornweg became head coach of England in the same year.
This was followed by a return to Australia where Hoornweg was named Netball Australia Coach of the Year 2005.
Hoornweg has also played a leading role in the development of franchise netball in the trans-Tasman league. She spent several successful seasons the helm of Melbourne Vixens, leading the franchise to a league title and two grand finals in Australia and New Zealand’s elite competition.
It was during this time that she once again was awarded the Coach of the Year (2008) award.