17 Apr 2014

Sport: Hoornweg says full-time coach a big step forward for Fiji Netball

11:17 am on 17 April 2014

The returning Fiji Pearls coach Julie Hoornweg says having somebody in the job full-time is a big boost for netball in the country.

Hoornweg was yesterday announced as the new Fiji coach on a short-term deal until the end of the Pacific Series in June.

She previously coached Fiji in the late 1990s and also had a stints in charge of the England team, and Melbourne Vixens in the ANZ Championship.

The national body advertised for a new mentor in December, after receiving funding from the Fiji National Sports Commission to hire a full-time coach from overseas.

Hoornweg says the opportunity to return, albeit briefly, was impossible to resist.

"I've lived there for three years and know the country, know the culture, know the people. I fell in love with it when I was there and I've followed their progress over the years and have a really close connection with [former Fiji and New Zealand coach] Yvonne Willering and she went in after me so I've been watching them closely and when I saw that they needed some help I put my hand up. Unfortunately it's only short-term - I can't stay permanently - but I if I can help them qualify for the Worlds that will be fantastic."

Previous coach Una Rokoura did the job for four years on a voluntary basis and Hoornweg says having someone in the role full-time will make a big difference.

"And when I there last time it was a voluntary basis too so this will be actually the first time I've gone in as a full-time coach so that will be fantastic. You can just devote your time - you can get out to where the athletes are, you can help develop their daily training environment so all of that will just help them grow as athletes first and then we put the netball skills on top of that. I'm really excited about going and catching up with people who I worked with when I was there last time but it's also good to take on a new set of athletes and show them the way to the top."

Hoornweg will be in charge for next month's Tri Series plus against Northern Ireland and Papua New Guinea, as well as the Pacific Series in June, which doubles as a World Champs qualifier.