Watching Hawke's Bay netballer Kimiora Poi make her Silver Ferns debut was part of a double celebration for the Bay's Charissa Barham yesterday.
Minutes after watching live television coverage of centre Poi playing for the Silver Ferns in their 54-41 loss to the England Roses in their Northern Netball Quad Series opener in Liverpool Barham, Poi's former Hawke's Bay under-19 team and Napier Girls' High School team coach, was able to announce her head coach appointment with the New Zealand Secondary Schools team.
"Kimi got on towards the end of the second quarter and played all of the third quarter. She didn't look out of place," Barham said.
She was among more than 20 Hawke's Bay Netball staff and supporters who gathered at the organisation's Hawke's Bay Regional Sports Park in Hastings base to watch the match.
Barham believed the Silver Ferns let the match slip in the second half.
"The entire team let the momentum swing England's way. But a positive was the fact 11 of the Ferns 12 players got on court."
England led 13-12 after the first quarter and 25-24 at halftime. The Silver Ferns trailed 40-30 after the third quarter of their fourth consecutive loss.
While the Kiwis staged a mini revival in the final quarter this was short lived when defender Karin Burger was stood down for two minutes after infringing for a second time following a warning.
In the Silver Ferns' shooting circle Maria Folau sunk 29 of her 32 attempts for a 90 per cent success rate while Ameliaranne Ekenasio had a 93 per cent success rate with 12 from 13.
The hosts dominated the possession stakes and Jo Harten was the best of the Roses shooters with 27 from 32 for an 84 per cent success rate.
One of the highlights for Barham was receiving a video from Poi's parents Bill and Roanne, who travelled to Liverpool to be among the spectators, shortly after the final whistle.
Their daughter, who has been likened to former Silver Fern Temepara George, was a member of the New Zealand team under-21 team which won their World Cup in 2017.
If she can continue to impress during the remainder of the Quad Series, which will see the Silver Ferns take on Australia from 5.30am on Sunday (NZT) she could be playing for the Silver Ferns at the July World Cup in Britain.
The wife of former Hawke's Bay Magpies rugby team midfield back Andy Barham and a mother of three, Barham, 43, has the opportunity to coach the New Zealand Secondary Schools team for two years.
"It's a one-year contract first. If I nail the first year I will get the second. This is the highlight of my coaching career and this has been a goal of mine for a while. I love this age group," Barham explained.
She is the only member of the management team who has returned from the previous two years' regime.
Last year the national team had convincing campaigns against their England and Aussie counterparts and in 2017 they beat the Aussies.
"I was really nervous before my interview. While, in my eyes, it was a case of now or never you just don't know how they are thinking," Barham said, referring to Netball New Zealand staff.
She believed the job will fit in well with her new national youth development manager role she has with the national body.
A 50-strong New Zealand Secondary Schools training squad will have a camp in Cambridge from Thursday until Monday.
Versatile Hastings Girls' High School player Liana Mikaele-Tu'u is the only Bay player in the squad and is chasing one of the shooting circle berths.
Barham is aware Mikaele-Tu'u has been shining on the sevens rugby scene during the summer and believed the time has almost come when she will have to decide which of the two codes will be her No 1. It will be interesting to see if she makes the same choice as Poi.
Havelock North born and raised, Barham, has coached Havelock North High School, Woodford House and NGHS teams in the past. She has also coached Manawatu and Hawke's Bay NPC teams and the Central under-23 side.
Hawke's Bay Netball's operations manager Tina Arlidge said it was a great feeling as she watched Poi take the court.
"That's our ultimate goal to have a Hawke's Bay-based Silver Fern and her debut came a lot earlier than we thought it would be. Obviously her success in the Fast 5 environment helped. We all had big smiles on her faces because we could have all turned up here to watch and she could not have got on the court," Arlidge explained.
She recalled how basketball was Poi's No 1 sport in 2013.
"The following year she made netball her No 1 sport after considering the pathway we could provide."
Arlidge was equally as delighted with Barham's appointment.
"That's a great result for the Bay and our first national team head coach appointment in the modern era," she added.