It's a show-and-tell morning session the combined Year 1 and 2 Tahirua class at Te Mata Primary School will not forget in a hurry.

Six-year-old twins Amelia and Marlow, older by three minutes, had shared with 42 classmates the joy of the Silver Ferns basking in a golden glow in becoming world champions in Liverpool, England, before their mother, Dr Melinda Parnell, had turned up with the bling for them to pass around.

Teachers Erika Purdy and Claire Capel had then thrown the floor open to the hive of red supporters to fire away questions at Parnell, who is the medical director of netball and accompanied the New Zealand netballers throughout their campaign.

Among the youngsters' questions were what the Silver Ferns enjoy eating. Their eyes lit up on discovering Jane Watson relishes chocolate milk and a teammate even has almond milk because she's lactose intolerant.

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"Nutrition is very important on tour, particularly when they play back-to-back games [so] refuelling straight after a game is very important and that's where I see what they eat," she says of the team dubbed the " Silver Ferns Fossils" because of some of their experienced players.

Parnell is a sport and exercise physician who has just moved to the Hawke's Bay Sports Medicine complex of the EIT Institute of Sport and Health at the HB Regional Sports Park in Hastings after she was based at Royston Hospital since arriving in the Bay in February.

She said everything on tour was methodical and precise for each individual and delivered to the sidelines.

"One easy way to refuel both protein and carbohydrate is with milk so that's one of our first go-tos so you get to know their likes and dislikes of what milk girls like or not," she said, disclosing some players don't like milk so alternatives had been concocted with water.

Parnell said a hearty dessert was often on the players' menu as an ideal after-match treat — self-saucing pudding as well as apple or berry crumbles with a dollop of icecream were lip-smacking hits.

Her team travelling role primarily involves injury and illness prevention before they depart on tours. It's a hectic time which includes organising an elaborate medical kit after the players' health has peaked at an optimum level.

During travel, she channels her expertise into minimising travel fatigue to prevent it from mutating to jetlag.

"That's where I can give the girls a lot of advice and give them tools and tricks of the trade to help optimise their travel so part of it also is hygiene to minimise the risk of illness."

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That extended to Parnell, in conjunction with the physio, keeping a tab on the players' workload to ensure they didn't over-exert themselves.

Six-year-old twins Amelia and Marlow with their medal-winning mum, Dr Melinda Parnell, after a show-and-tell with Te Mata Primary School classmates in Hastings yesterday. Photo/Warren Buckland
Six-year-old twins Amelia and Marlow with their medal-winning mum, Dr Melinda Parnell, after a show-and-tell with Te Mata Primary School classmates in Hastings yesterday. Photo/Warren Buckland

The grinning doctor said they had sidestepped the energy-sapping heat wave with temperate climes in Liverpool although air-conditioning drying out players in hotels was monitored to counter infections.

Defender Katrina Rore's calf strain was of concern but she had responded well to treatment in ticking off boxes via incremental gains although Michaela Sokolich-Beatson was taken as her back-up in case she had come up shy.

"Whether it be luck, good management, her hard work and dedication or a combination of the lot, she really did knock off our socks at the end of the World Cup," Parnell said.

Coach Noeline Taurua and her troops got a special mention, with the Black Caps, in the Beehive in Wellington from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern last week after their 52-51 victory. The netballers had defied the odds of pundits after a demoralising loss to Malawi during their Commonwealth Games campaign on the Gold Coast last year.

Parnell said the Kiwis had had the ultimate build-up leading into the World Cup.

"We had franchises working hard with individuals and within those small team environments so they had gone straight from there to the Sunshine Coast to see Noels [Taurua] and train with her."

It was a gruelling time with players training twice a week and practising the "what-ifs" before heading into the Cadbury Series to take on the New Zealand men's team where the Silver Ferns had garnered the self-belief required to compete at a pinnacle event.

A week-long camp at Colchester, before they had relocated to Liverpool, became the platform for consolidation.

Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua had the art of making her players instil self-belief in bringing the best out of themselves all the way to the Netball World Cup in England. Photo/Photosport
Silver Ferns coach Noeline Taurua had the art of making her players instil self-belief in bringing the best out of themselves all the way to the Netball World Cup in England. Photo/Photosport

"I think the main thing is Noels and her ability to gain the best out of people so she gave all the girls the ability to trust themselves and make the most of it."

She said every cup game was treated with equal intensity, including the opener against Malawi.

Parnell works in tandem with the strength-and-conditioning staff down to franchise level and a physiotherapist after Taurua had set realistic international-level targets for players to strive towards top fitness.

"I think that was very important leading into this event which was very different to test matches where they have three-day minimum break between matches."

While born in Melbourne to Kiwi parents, Parnell said arriving in New Zealand as a 25-year-old to study medicine at Otago University in Dunedin felt like coming home for someone who was a "staunch Aussie" backing the Diamonds.

"Although I never lived here before it was easy and felt good," she said, revealing she had met Bay husband Ciaran Thrush at a junior doctors' gathering in 2008.

She had recalled watching the Silver Ferns winning the 2003 world crown when centre Temepara Bailey (nee George) was sinbinned for three goals but the New Zealanders still prevailed 49-47 over the Aussies in the final.

"I remember thinking, 'Ah, typical Kiwis and their contacts'. I distinctly remember that and then becoming disappointed that Australia had lost."

The very next year she had watched a Constellation Cup match but had evolved into a "staunch supporter of black and the black dress".

She has been a medical director with the Silver Ferns for four years but had joined them on Aussie tours each year since 2012.

Parnell, who was with HPSNZ in Auckland last year, said the new "beautiful building" at the sports park offers a platform to combine their health services for the benefit of the community.

Dr Melinda Parnell (right) celebrates with the Silver Ferns after winning the Netball World Cup victory in Liverpool, England, two weekends ago. Photo/Photosport
Dr Melinda Parnell (right) celebrates with the Silver Ferns after winning the Netball World Cup victory in Liverpool, England, two weekends ago. Photo/Photosport