By Christopher Reive
Amigene Metcalfe will be leaning on the vast depths of her netballing experience over the next week.
This isn’t a comeback story, however – instead the former Silver Fern and Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic stalwart will be coaching a St Peter’s School Year 7 and 8 team at this year’s NZCT AIMS Games in Tauranga.
Metcalfe is one of several former sports stars coaching a team at this year’s week-long tournament, which will feature more than 8000 intermediate-aged athletes from 261 schools around New Zealand
And having faced similar pressure-cooker environments during her professional career, Metcalfe intends going back to her own experiences to help her young team prepare.
“Even at the top level of netball, you still really need to practice and focus on those basic skills of turning, passing, catching – all those sorts of things” Metcalfe said. “Those are the little things that really matter, [as well as] management of player welfare, good rest and recovery, good nutrition, making sure they warm up well, warm down well and communication throughout the week so that they all stay positive.”
Former All Black and 100-game Waikato halfback Rhys Duggan, ex-Kiwis rugby league coach Kevin Tamati and national waterpolo representative Brendon Horan are all coaching school teams at the games. Previous stars like basketballer Dillon Boucher, netballer Tania Dalton and ironman Cameron Brown have also given back to their chosen codes in recent years.
That’s something that has Metcalfe excited too, as well as helping her team – which includes her daughter Jorja – enjoy the environment of the competition and the buzz around it.
“A week together is a long time and it’s something that’s pretty special to be a part of. I’m just really looking forward to seeing how the girls respond to all the things that happen on-court as well as all the cool things that will be happening off the court.”
There are 96 netball teams signed on for this year’s tournament, and Metcalfe said she will be happy if they finish higher than any St Peter’s team has done before.
Tournament director Vicki Semple said the 12th year of the AIMS Games was going to be the biggest yet, with many top athletes are likely to come from this year’s crop.
“Some of our early athletes are already out there as elites, competing on the world stage,” Semple said. “We’re also seeing former sporting stars line up to coach their local school teams and ensuring that future stars will continue to emerge from all manner of codes.”