Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Netball NZ CEO Hilary Poole to step down

Netball NZ CEO Hilary Poole. Photo / Doug Sherring
Netball NZ CEO Hilary Poole. Photo / Doug Sherring

Netball NZ's departing chief executive Hilary Poole says her only regret in the role is that the decision to split away from the ANZ Championship did not come sooner.

Poole today announced she will step down from the role she has held since 2013 at the end of the month. Her departure comes at a time when the sport is in a period of major transition, with the ANZ Championship to be disestablished at the end of this season and a new six-team domestic competition to take its place.

Poole advised her resignation to the Board earlier in the year while the organisation was in the midst of delicate negotiations with Netball Australia over the future of the transtasman league. It was agreed she would not step down from her post until the strategic direction of New Zealand's new elite competition structure had been set.

"My only regret is that we didn't get there quicker. The new set-up will work much better for New Zealand netball," said Poole.

"All the metrics had been heading in the wrong direction, both in the performance, the financials, the viewership and that was evident to me from day one [in the role]. So in hindsight I wished we had be able to address this sooner."

There are still a number of details to be pinned down in the new competition, which will be up and running by April next year. A working party made up of representatives from Netball NZ and the Netball Northern zone are assessing options for a second Auckland team - an announcement on which is expected to be made over the next couple of weeks.

Netball NZ is also working on a "Super Club" concept, which will be a Champions League-style competition involving the top club sides from around the world.

"We're making some good progress there and we hope to have some outcomes sorted in the next couple of weeks."

While Poole has only been at the organisation three years, she is comfortable stepping down now having safeguarded the sport's future through the implementation of a number of initiatives.

She instigated a review into New Zealand's development and coaching pathways, which has seen the introduction of several new programmes and structures. Poole also drove a competitions review, resulting in the introduction of the Beko League - a domestic competition that feeds into the ANZ Championship - this season.

"I did what I have been brought into do, which is set the strategy and put in place the underpinning programmes and structures, and review and set a new competition structure," said Poole.

"I think three years is a good length of time. In discussing it with my board, we decided it was the right time for netball in terms of the netball cycle. I think some fresh energy and leadership going into the Commonwealth Games and the World Cup and I think of continuing to implement the changes that we've introduced it is the right time for the sport."

Poole believes the biggest challenge for the new chief executive will be continuing to build the performance culture of netball.

"We've worked really hard with the Silver Ferns and making changes in their environment, and putting in place the underpinning programmes put in place for players and coaches, so ensuring they are continuing to be well-resourced [should be a priority]."

After eight years working with national sporting organisations, firstly with Hockey NZ and now Netball NZ, Poole said she now plans to focus on her governance and commercial career.

The Netball NZ board have commenced the recruitment process for Poole's replacement.

- NZ Herald

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