CLASS A NOELS
‘HAPPY PEOPLE MAKE HAPPY PLAYERS’ IS THIS COACH’S NUMBER ONE STRATEGY, AND WITH THOSE WORDS SHE’S TRANSFORMED THE LOCAL SPORTING COMMUNITY
For those who know her from the TV screen, she’s fierce, determined and she’s the one at the top calling the shots.
But for those who know her personally, she’s warm, supportive and has a unique way of bringing out the best in those around her.
Noeline Taurua is the head coach of the Sunshine Coast Lightning. She took on the job at the end of 2016 ahead of Lightning’s inaugural season in 2017. She left behind her head coaching role at Southern Steel in New Zealand, risking it all for a chance to make history.
And that she did.
The Sunshine Coast Lightning set a mark that is unlikely to be beaten by an entry club, in any sport — winning two premierships in their first two years of existence.
Like many Kiwis before her, Noeline is one of those talents who we Aussies would love to claim, not only throughout her coaching career but also in her playing days.
She made her debut playing for the New Zealand Silver Ferns in 1994, played in the 1995 World Cup and the 1998
She admitted that as a player, she relied too heavily on her natural talent throughout her youth. As a coach,
Noeline has developed an intuitive understanding into what motivates and inspires a player’s work ethic.
“My trade has been learnt through experience as a player, through observing and the experience I’ve had with my previous coaches whether that be good or bad,” Noeline said.
“I think as years have gone on, I’ve learnt to be more comfortable and confident within my own skin. Knowing that my thinking might be different than the norms of what a
high-performance environment should be.” Despite the loss of Australian Diamonds captain Caitlin Bassett and mid-courter Kelsey Browne as well as defending powerhouse Geva Mentor at the end of last season, Lightning has come into the 2019 Suncorp Super Netball season maintaining their reputation as a premiership side.
They currently sit at number two on the ladder, with the same amount of wins as the competition leader the NSW Swifts. Although, what is perhaps even more impressive than Noeline’s coaching success on paper, is her ability to create a club culture that is community spirited.
In the three years since Lightning’s inception, the club has gained a loyal fan base getting locals well and truly hooked on netball.
The club has found a certain type of fan, a fan that for the first two-and-a-half years would travel all the way to Brisbane just to support the girls at a home game. That type of connection between a community and a club doesn’t just fall together, it is formed through hard work and a people-focused attitude.
“When we came here, it was always about the Sunny Coast and creating a pathway where young players can aspire to become an elite athlete,” Noeline said.
“Everything we do, we do it to ensure the people of the Sunny Coast have something to be proud of and a club they would want to belong to.
“I know it’s about what happens on the scoreboard and whether you win or lose, but for me, it’s always about something bigger.
“I have this saying that happy people make happy players, and if they are more confident and they’ve worked hard and they know where they are, then that influences others in their lives, not necessarily just about netball.”
Taking advantage of Netball Australia’s unlimited import rule, Noeline has created a team that is often referred to as a “league of nations”.
She has recruited New Zealand-born
Laura Langham, Uganda’s Peace Proscovia, and two South African defensive talents
Karla Pretorius and Phumza Maweni.
It is this infusion of skill that contributes to Lightning’s unpredictable offensive strategy, agile mid-court and intimidating defensive third.
Noeline said Lightning has always strived to create a point of difference between itself and other clubs within the competition.
“I think it adds to our style of play having people from different countries because they bring with them different styles, they bring a different way of playing the game and I think that not only mystifies the game but brings an element to our game that other teams don’t have,” she said.
“We acknowledge this as a strength instead of everyone having to conform.”
With the start of the 2019 Netball World Cup yesterday Noels will be directing the Silver Ferns who are currently ranked fourth
EVERYTHING WE DO, WE DO IT TO ENSURE THE PEOPLE OF THE SUNNY COAST HAVE SOMETHING TO BE PROUD OF AND A CLUB THEY WOULD WANT TO BELONG TO
in the world following the team’s controversial placing at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
With the honour that comes from taking rein of the national team you once played for, as the 11th Silver Fern head coach Noeline takes on the role amid a crucial time for New Zealand netball.
At the Commonwealth Games we placed fourth, for our sport at home that’s unheard of, and it caused a bit of an uproar,” Noeline said.
“Because of that, I’ve come in late. Every other country usually have a three or four year build up but we’ve been able to do seven months, so we are a bit on the back foot.
“However, I’m ready for it and I see these challenges as part of the excitement of signing my name on the dotted line.”
TOP COACH: Head coach Noeline Taurua has taken the Sunshine Coast Lightning to win two premierships within the club's first two seasons.