Netball CEO plans familiarisation survey

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 05:00 12/12/2012

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New Netball Central Zone, and Central Pulse, chief executive Chris Hooper quite liked being described as "little-known".

The Englishman isn't familiar to people in netball, outside of those connected to the teams his two daughters play in, and has had no previous experience running a sporting franchise.

But Hooper doesn't reckon you need a high public profile to be an effective administrator.

The 49-year-old started his new job on Monday and has no plans to become famous any time soon. But "stakeholders" the length and breadth of the Central Zone can expect to meet him within the next few weeks.

Hooper comes to this role after seven years as chief executive of the New Zealand Special Olympic movement, four in the same role in Great Britain and, most recently, five years as CEO of Scouts New Zealand.

"I'm absolutely committed to getting around the traps and meeting people early in the new year. That was a really important part of my role with Scouts," he said.

"Every year we had a regular forum, which was really successful and transparent and we discussed everything. When an organisation has been through such a radical change, it's really important to get out there and put a face to the name."

Both Scouts and Special Olympics are not-for-profit organisations, as Netball Central Zone is. Hooper has shown he can run that kind of an outfit, but high-performance sport is a different beast and if the Pulse suddenly go backwards on and off the court, it will be his fault.

"It's a new challenge, but I think there's always a new challenge in a new job," he said. "I've run, and been involved in staging major events, for Special Olympics all around the world, so they're no different to professional sportspeople."

Hooper said he would be meeting with "the captain" of the Pulse this week who, in case he doesn't know her name, is Katrina Grant.

His will not be an easy task, co-ordinating grassroots netball from Wellington up to Taranaki and across to Gisborne, while also ensuring that the zone's franchise team can contend for the trans-Tasman Netball League title.

Hooper has a clear idea of how he'll gauge his progress. "You can test the morale. Morale is a key thing," he said.

"In Scouts we were regularly consulting with our constituents and our stakeholders within the movement. Obviously the morale of the sponsors is important and there are so many stakeholders in netball, it seems.

"If you've got a well-performing team at one end and you're feeding plenty of talent through at the other, that's successful."

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- The Dominion Post

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