North Otago great Georgie Salter just can’t stop coaching.
Salter is coming out of retirement at the elite level to lead Netball South in the Beko League from March to June.
Family proved the catalyst to entice her into the job.
Salter’s niece, Reinga Bloxham, is coach of the Southern Steel which has a close connection to the Beko team.
“It’s definitely a whanau thing that I’m doing and it’s a way to support her by helping the talent coming through from our region. That was the impetus to say yes.
“I’m probably going to be doing netball until my zimmer frame is rattling along the side of the court.”
A Netball New Zealand initiative launched earlier this year, the Beko League provides a vital pathway for emerging talent to experience a high performance environment.
Salter believes it has also played an important role in uniting the southern zone.
“Having a North Otago person coaching players from throughout Otago and Southland makes that connection really strong and the more we can do that, the better.
“We need to work together in all ways, not just the players and coaches, but umpires, administrators and our wider netball community.”
With an emphasis on pre-season conditioning, the initial 16-strong Beko squad was already putting in the hard slog before the final trial in February and Salter is impressed with the talent.
“We’ve got the best our region can offer and they worked their little hearts out at the first trial,” she said.
“I want to capture that aspiration that they’ve all got and help them represent our region proudly.”
Salter started her own representative career in Eastern Southland and played for the Silver Ferns in 1974-75.
The highlight of her extraordinary coaching career was guiding the Otago Rebels to the inaugural Coca-Cola Cup title in 1998 and backing that up the same year by coaching Otago to the NPC title for the first time in 66 years.
Between them, those two teams – containing the likes of Belinda Colling and Anna Rowberry – won 22 straight games.
Salter also coached the New Zealand under-21 team and completed a stint as technical adviser to the Cook Islands.
Netball South chief executive Lana Winders said Salter’s extensive knowledge would be an asset to both the team and wider organisation.
“If anyone can take the South team to back-to-back national titles, it’s Georgie,” Winders said.
“We’re really honoured to have someone of her calibre pick up this vital head coach role.”
Four apprentice coaches will also be selected to be mentored by Salter during the campaign.
Salter applauded the initiative and was eager to work with those selected.
“We’re trendsetters – the South has always been the group to lead the way and we’re doing it again,” Salter said.