Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Netball: Mystics look south for new management

Julie Paterson. Photo / Otago Daily Times
Julie Paterson. Photo / Otago Daily Times

The Northern Mystics have continued the pattern of importing their management for next season, with Southland's Julie Paterson taking over the leadership of the Auckland franchise.

Paterson, who holds the joint role of Southern Steel and Netball Southland chief executive, will jump ship to the Northern Mystics in January, taking over from Mark Cameron, who has moved to Auckland Cricket.

The appointment is certain to spark further grumbles from Auckland netball identities who are unhappy there is no local input in the coaching team.

Mystics coach Debbie Fuller resides in Tauranga, while her new assistant, Gail Parata, is from Wellington, and technical adviser Megan Dehn will be based in Australia.

But chairman of Greater Auckland Netball Tom Nickels said Paterson's long history of success in netball administration made her a stand-out.

Over the past 12 months Paterson has driven a bold strategic overhaul at the Steel, and said that while she was tempted to stay and see it through, after six years at the helm she felt it was time for a change.

"Unfortunately, in sport jobs don't come up all that often and you have to grab the opportunities when they come," said Paterson.

While in Invercargill Paterson is responsible for the Netball Southland regional programmes and the Steel franchise, she is confident she still has enough work to sink her teeth into at the Mystics.

The Mystics have been one of the financial success stories of the ANZ Championship, receiving strong commercial support with memberships virtually doubling year on year.

Paterson said she was excited about being able to work in a bigger market.

"[Steel] are probably a bit more community orientated, and I'm looking forward to having a bit more of a pure business focus, which the Mystics have been known for," she said.

Given the uncertainty over the future of the governance structure with Netball New Zealand conducting a regional review, Paterson has signed a fixed-term contract.

The national body is proposing a move to a zone-based system, which would see the country split into five - each aligned with a franchise.

As head of the Mystics franchise, Paterson would be in the box seat to lead zone 1 - which with 32 per cent of the playing population would be the biggest zone in the country. But she said such thoughts were not a driving factor behind her decision to move.

"I wouldn't say I have ambitions [to lead zone 1]," she said, "but having worked in a model that isn't entirely dissimilar to what Netball New Zealand are proposing, I have an understanding of what would be required in the role."

- NZ Herald

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