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Netball’s Magic meets Army’s Waiouru

The AVIS Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic netball team have won through a 48-hour baptism of fire, courtesy of New Zealand Army trainers at Waiouru.

15 March, 2024

Twelve players undertook a resilience training camp over a weekend, which included assault courses, combat training, memory tests, logistics exercises and skills games.

The team, with coach Mary-Jane Araroa, assistant coach Rebecca Gabel, Manager Amanda Dyason, strength and conditioning coach Aidan Butterworth (ex-physical training instructor), mental skills coach Zane Winslade and physiotherapist Oliver Cuomo arrived on Friday 1 March and were welcomed onto the Rongo-marae roa-o-Ngā-hau-e-wha Marae with a mihi whakatau.

The welcome over, the team changed into physical training kit and underwent an Army required fitness level test and swim test. An international umpire briefed the players on new rules for netball matches, then followed them to the assault course to challenge the players’ knowledge just as they were completing a section. If they got it wrong, Physical Training Instructor Corporal Codie Christensen stood ready to dish out extra exercise.

Even before coming to camp, the players had researched six military-themed topics – combat mindset, leadership, cognitive edge, profession of arms, cultural competence and types of quotients – all relatable to high-performance sport. These themes were delivered during dinner to Army officers and platoon commanders.

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The following day started with a 6am physical training session, then a four-hour leaderless activity. They wrote letters to their 16-year-old self, tackled components of combat fitness training, and worked on a variety of logistics exercises and skills games.

On Sunday, another 6am PT session and drill instruction, before winding down with the cleaning of the marae and a goal-setting session with the coaching staff.

The event was hatched after coach Araroa had been a guest speaker at the NZDF Netball Inter-Services tournament.

She says the aim of the camp was to develop leaders who were able to handle adversity; develop people who can solve problems under pressure and not fuel them, who can compromise and not demonise, especially when mentally stretched.

“We wanted to develop our players’ performance language, where dialogue is held at a high level and is two-way, then agree and action; and develop people who can just get on with the job.

Coach Araroa said she was extremely grateful for the training and was excited about her 2024 campaign. She was impressed by the detailed planning and the expertise of CPL Christensen who delivered most of the programme.

“We need the team, including our management, to understand that being the best in this competition requires individuals to find their own self-value and know how they are contributing to a winning culture.  The camp allowed our team to accelerate their growth in these areas and we are excited how they will transfer these learnings on court.”