Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Netball: Departing boss says new setup is better

Poole said she now plans to focus on her governance and commercial career. Photo / NZPA
Poole said she now plans to focus on her governance and commercial career. Photo / NZPA

Netball New Zealand'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 yesterday said she would 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 middle 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," Poole said. "The new set-up will work much better for New Zealand netball.

"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 been able to address this sooner."

There are still 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 are 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."

Although Poole has been at the organisation only 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. She also drove a competitions review, resulting in the introduction this season of the Beko League, a domestic competition that feeds into the ANZ Championship.

"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."

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

Northern Mystics coach Debbie Fuller also said yesterday she was stepping down at the end of the season. With the competition to undergo major changes next season, Fuller flagged her intentions early to allow the franchise time to get a new coach in place before the recruitment window opened.

- NZ Herald

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