Wales netball head into the New Year intent on ensuring ‘The Welsh Way’ develops into a powerful doctrine for the future.
Australian coach Julie Hoornweg did a remarkable job in stabilising netball in Wales over the last couple of years – and her work mentoring assistant coaches Sara Hale and Jenna Culley ensured the national team will continue to work and progress in the right way.
Wales are working towards qualification for the 2022 Commonwealth Games when the tournament will be held at Coventry Arena, home to two-time Vitality Netball Superleague champions Wasps.
The national squad has been announced for 2020 after a series of trials and Rachel Bayley, head of performance, says: “The coming season will see preparations for the 2022 Commonwealth Games and 2023 World Cup escalate and I know that after such a successful 2019, this new group of athletes will be hungry to compete on court and continue our excellent run of form.”
The input of hugely experienced Hoornweg, who was appointed after Wales failed to qualify for the 2019 World Cup, should not be underestimated.
Former Fiji and England coach Hoornweg, aged 67, was born in Melbourne. She helped shape the sporty in Singapore and Wales, having previously been a highly successful coach at Melbourne Vixens.
Hoornweg took charge of Wales for the 2018 Commonwealth Games and led the team to a best-ever result against New Zealand and a record win over Fiji.
During the following year Wales embarked on an ambitious programme of six summer tests, beating higher ranking opposition in Malawi, for the first time ever, plus and Trinidad & Tobago at the Viola Arena.
Those victories were swiftly followed by two wins against Grenada.
Hoornweg’s winning streak continued at the 2019 Netball Europe Open Championships in Belfast where Wales defeated hosts Northern Ireland, recorded a dramatic draw against England and won comprehensively against the Republic of Ireland.
Wales secured a silver medal, only missing out on gold through goal difference.
By the end of 2019, Hoornweg had led Wales back into the top 10 of the World Rankings and the squad had welcomed six newly capped players. Sarah Jones, Welsh Netball chief executive, says: “Julie has been a true leader for netball in Wales over the last 18 months. I thank Julie personally for her dedication to our sport and our country.
“Julie came on board at a time of instability unrest and uncertainty within the Wales performance structure. During her tenure, Julie never shied away from challenges and difficulties that lay ahead.
“Julie is a game changer – a true leader – who embraced the vision we have for netball in Wales and grabbed every opportunity to deliver success. She has exceeded the goals we originally set and has revived the Wales squad, its culture and expectations of itself.
“Julie has been embraced by everyone she has met, particularly the players and management team, who she has mentored, taught and led. She has been integral to the netball family here in Wales, laid strong foundations and expectations for the next phase in our ambitious journey and leaves the squad and country in a far better place.”
A fantastic group of inspirational role models and volunteers dedicated to achieving excellence internationally and growing the game in Wales. 🏴 pic.twitter.com/ETkemsw7UO
— Welsh Netball | Pêl-Rwyd Cymru (@WelshNetball) December 11, 2019
Wales netball squad 2020:
Chloe James (Pontardawe)
Beca Hughes (Mold)
Morganne Dunne (Premier Romans)
Eleanor Roberts (Celtic Dragons)
Georgia Rowe (Severn Stars)
Lydia Hitchings (Cardiff Met, Team Bath Toucans)
Sarie Watkins (CTK)
Zoe Matthewman (Loughborough Lightning under-21)
Beth Dyke (Severn Stars)
Suzy Drane (Team Bath Toucans)
Clare Jones (Hucclecote)
Shona O’Dwyer (Celtic Dragons)
Rebecca Baker (Team Bath Toucans)
Celyn Emmanuel (Hertfordshire Mavericks)
Beth Johnson (Cardiff Met, Team Bath under-21)
Ellie Merriman (Celtic Dragons under-19)
Ellen Morgan (Hucclecote; Severn Stars under-21)
Leila Thomas (Celtic Dragons)
Nia Jones (Severn Stars)
Lucy Howells (Celtic Dragons)
Ella Porter (Millfield)
Millie Carter (Ystrad Mynach)
Wiktoria Rejniak (Merlins)
Fern Davies (Team Bath)
Megan Baker Rees (Heath Angels)
Carys Allen (Cardiff Met Uni)
Chantelle Walker Jones (Central)
Wales under-21s earned silver in the Netball Europe after beating Northern Ireland 56-40 in their final game at Worcester Arena.
The Welsh girls had earned a solid win against Scotland and suffered a battling defeat against England in their previous fixtures.
Wing-defence Eleri Michael pressured the Northern Ireland, while the defensive partnership of Miquie Walker Jones and Carys Allen were able to smother Northern Ireland in the circle and within 10 minutes Wales were into a lead with captain Shona O’Dwyer powering up court with turnover ball.
Wales’ shooting partnership, Morganne Dunn and Georgia Jenkins, maintained their excellent form and consistently hit the target.
A big moment in the game came when Wales turned over an NI feed and the ball was launched up court. It looked certain to go out of play only for substitute Beca Hughes to fly up and tip it back into play for Dunn to convert the shot.
Wales looked the fitter side as they passed 50 goals and kept their shape for the final minutes to earn the win.
The team included four new caps – Nia Evans, Carys Llewelyn, Erin Williams and Morganne Dunn.
Quarter scores v Northern Ireland (Wales first): 14-10 (14-10); 13-8 (27-18); 16-12 (43-30) 13-10 (56-40).
Wales starting seven: Morganne Dunn, Georgia Jenkins, Chloe Dyke, Shona O’Dwyer (capt), Eleri Michael, Carys Allen and Miquie Walker-Jones. Bench: Beca Hughes, Erin Williams, Nia Evans, Carys Llewelyn, Bethan Johnson.