When the latest chapter in the SWNTP began back in March the players were presented with a vision and a series of clear objectives to help them reach it. In the eight months that have passed since that first session in Coltness High School the application of every player, their willingness to buy in to everything that has been asked of them and the progress they have made as a result has been considerable.
The trip to Ireland has been well documented. Perhaps what wasn’t evident is that we took every player in the squad who could make the trip. In other words there was no need for selection. That was the way it was always intended to be. It was a development opportunity.
With the Christmas International at the Kelvin Hall postponed for this year the next competitive opportunity is the Novotel Cup in Luxembourg from 6-8 January 2012. With only twelve playing slots available this would come down to selection which, for a National Team Coach, is never an easy task at the best of times. On this occasion it was even more difficult as so many players were in contention for a place.
The aim of the Programme from the outset has always been to improve the ‘professionalism’ of the squad, to create a better performance environment and to create a mentality within the players that says we not only play to win but, above all, we practice to win. Glorious failure is not an option…and how the players have bought into this!
We practiced last Sunday at the University of Stirling. As I prepared for what would be our final practice session before Christmas it struck home to me that selecting twelve players was going to be a really tough process. So many players had put themselves in the frame that it wasn’t going to be a simple matter by any stretch of the imagination. We had to ensure that the players were clear about the criteria we would be looking at when considering selections. Above all we needed to select twelve players who could sustain the right level of performance over three International matches in three days. We needed twelve players who could physically and mentally cope with three consecutive five set matches at this level if that is what it is going to take.
By last Sunday we knew who our opponents will be. Friday 6 January sees us play the hosts, Luxembourg, in the evening. Our guess is they see us as an easy way of starting their campaign with a win. I think we might have something to say about that.
On the Saturday we play Germany! The immediate reaction is…”are you kidding?” Well, no I’m not, but what I’m assuming is that it may well be a younger German side as opposed to their full Senior Women’s team. A real tasty challeneg just the same!
And if that doesn’t whet your appetite then there is the other small matter of facing England first thing on Sunday in our final game!
So, a pretty interesting challenge lies ahead…one that every player in the squad wanted to face up to, but one that only twelve would be able to.
After considerable deliberation the Coaching Staff finally reached agreement on the twelve players who will fly out of Edinburgh in Thursday 5 January.
Elaine Krawczyk (Troon, Prestwick and Ayr)
Emma Clarkson (Su Ragazzi)
Linsey Bunten (Troon, Prestwick and Ayr) [Captain]
Alex Dickenson (Su Ragazzi)
Caroline Clayton (Troon, Prestwick and Ayr)
Hazel Gow (Troon, Prestwick and Ayr)
Kirsty McLean (Su Ragazzi)
Caitlin McEwan (North Lanarkshire)
Kay Wheatley (Troon, Prestwick and Ayr)
Cathy Smy (Aberdonia)
Carly McKinlay (Su Ragazzi)
Laura McReady (Su Ragazzi)
It was equally important to recognise the contribution of the players who had been unsuccessful this time. The players concerned are an integral part of the Programme and what it is attempting to achieve. Without their contribution we cannot make the journey.
Next up for the squad is the Christmas Camp from 28-30 December based at The Peak, Stirling. A camp at this time of year is always a big ask because traditionally it is a time for family celebration and fun. But, almost every single player will be attending the Camp along with a number of the players who currently have contracts abroad.
It will be the work of everybody in this Camp, those who have been selected and equally those who have not, that will help to ready us for the challenge that lies ahead in Luxembourg.
That’s what the Senior Women’s Programme is all about!
Senior Women’s National Team Programme