We sat down with Chani Wopara, head coach of UWE’s Netball team to find out more about their promotion to the premier league and their hopes for next season when games resume.
Congratulations on Team UWE Bristol Netball’s First Team promotion to the BUCS Premier League! How has the journey been to get to this point?
It’s been a 2-year journey getting to this point. Last year I had the luxury of having a solid, experienced defensive unit which allowed me time to work with a young, new attacking unit. This season I lost that solid defence but luckily had some really strong 2nd team players who stepped up and took over those roles. All the hard work the attacking unit put in the season before shone through this season and we were lucky enough to strengthen that unit further by adding some talented freshers. This seasons team was very well balanced and that showed in our league position and cup run.
Have you and the players experienced any challenges along the way?
No, we have been extremely fortunate this season. Everything has pretty much gone to plan, and it has been stress free for both myself and the girls. We have been lucky enough to have a full squad most weeks, with minimal injuries and players away on placement.
How does it feel to moving into the BUCS Premier League next season?
As coach this is the 2nd time, I have gained promotion to the BUCS Premier League with the 1st team and this time I feel we are much more equipped to compete with the team we have. I feel excited for the girls to have an opportunity to compete against some of the best young players in this country and for them to have an opportunity to showcase what they can do at the highest level.
What are your hopes for the next BUCS season?
Our target for this season is to retain our BUCS Premier League spot. It is extremely difficult to gain promotion, but even harder to retain a place in the top division. All the teams in the Premier League have a number of International or Superleague players and this is something we will have to study, analyse and try to combat. Netball is a team sport and even teams with talented individuals can be overcome. This is something I’m going to remind the girls of throughout the season, as well as using my knowledge from the last time we were in this position. It’s crucial to remember that although a home win can be hard to come by, just one could be the difference between staying up and going back down.
How will you and the team adapt to playing in the BUCS Premier League?
Work harder and start earlier! We know that the step up from Division 1 to the Premiership is huge and for us to have any chance at competing we are going to have to put in the hard work during preseason and throughout the year. These players are stronger and quicker; therefore, we must be also. So, more strength and conditioning and more players involved in club netball or competing at high levels to gain that competitive edge.
Can you give future netball players an insight into playing netball at university i.e. training, social, competition?
University netball is incredible. The club are a remarkably close group of girls, who like to socialise between teams. They are incredibly supportive of each other and work hard to push each other both at training and during fixtures. Training is well organised and structured, focusing on improvements required as a team and upcoming BUCS fixture. We have 4 teams ranging from Division 6, all the way up to the Premiership next season. This allows us to cater for a range of abilities and provides an opportunity for growth and progression up through the teams.