Hard as a Diamond

How do you train as hard as a Diamond?

One of the first things you notice about the newly named Samsung Diamonds is how in sync they are.

From training and shooting drills, the team moves fluidly. It’s little wonder they are one of the nation’s most successful sports teams, holding a 94 per cent win rate for the Netball World Cup (compared to the Australian cricket team’s 45 per cent win rate, despite facing only half the number of competitors).

Yet, as they concluded a recent national training camp, the question arose: what will it take for the team and the sport to take their rightful place?

More than half a million Australians – men and women – play netball; it is the most popular sport for women and girls in the country. The sport is going from strength to strength following the launch of the televised Super Netball series, which kicked off earlier this year.

Despite the Samsung Diamonds being one of the nation’s most successful teams, it is only recently that netball has joined the forefront of Australian sports with the increased number of televised games and support of the league, despite already being one of the largest female sports in Australia.

This increased coverage of women’s sports – AFL has had a stellar inaugural season, with the games drawing crowds to the pitch and on TV – is having a positive flow-on effect for younger women.

“What netball does well is target the grassroots, it’s about inclusiveness; netball really is for everyone,” Samsung Diamonds goal shooter Caitlin Bassett says.

“As a little girl I dreamed of being a Samsung Diamond,” centre Kim Ravaillion says.

In encouraging the next generation of netballers, the players were unanimous in their advice: never give up, understand that sacrifices will be made if you want to compete and embrace your differences.

“Everyone has their own journey and face their own challenges – you have to fight hard,” Bassett says.

Paige Hadley, the team’s centre and wing attack, adds it’s about resilience

“If you have the goal to be a Samsung Diamond, you really have to give it your all,” Ravaillion says.

But the players aren’t making these changes alone.

The team has recently taken a leap forward, in terms of recognition and technologically, with global giant Samsung securing the Diamonds’ first naming rights partnership, as the company seeks to support the sport at all levels, from the community netball courts to the newly named Samsung Diamonds.

“Netball is one of the most engaged, passionate community-driven activities that brings together millions of Australians each week,” Samsung Australia’s head of brand partnerships Holly Adams says.

“Samsung is committed to supporting the sport at its highest level, as well as through grassroots activity through teams and communities around Australia. Breakthrough experiences, partnerships and collaboration are at the heart of how Samsung applies our innovation to support our customers and partners alike,” she says.

Commenting on the partnership, Bassett says, “It is pretty amazing for women’s support to have such a backing from such a global company”.

The Samsung Diamonds are also on the front foot when it comes to utilising cutting-edge technology to improve their game. At the recent netball camp, the team ran drills by a 360 camera, capturing their training in a new way, and combined with VR, allowing them to view how they operate and examine ways to gain a critical edge on their own performance.

“We really want to grow and challenge ourselves,” Bassett says. “To be able to use VR cameras and phones … it makes it so much easier to stay connected, as like most national Australian sports teams we are such a decentralised program, we’re based in different states and we don’t get much time even when we are together, so it’s important we are able to stay connected.”

So what’s the future for one of Australia’s most successful sport teams? According to Bassett, it is further integrating technology and inspiring the next generation of women, both in sport and life.

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