Former Silver Ferns call for independent report into Mainland Tactix struggles

The Tactix are winless in 2017 and got hammered by 49 goals against the Steel on Wednesday night.
Kai Schwoerer

The Tactix are winless in 2017 and got hammered by 49 goals against the Steel on Wednesday night.

Canterbury netball identities Marg Foster and Belinda Charteris are demanding an independent review as fears grow for the future of the struggling Mainland Tactix.

Former Silver Ferns Foster and Charteris have grave concerns about the high performance arm of Netball Mainland and the region's flagship side, the Tactix, who continually battle for wins and prop up the bottom of the table.

The Tactix sunk to a fresh low on Wednesday, being thrashed 90-41 on their home court by the Southern Steel to make it four consecutive losses to begin the new ANZ Premiership competition.

Marg Foster barks out orders to her players while coaching the Canterbury Flames in the former National Bank Cup.
JASON OXENHAM/ STUFF

Marg Foster barks out orders to her players while coaching the Canterbury Flames in the former National Bank Cup.

Both Foster and Charteris said they were worried about the long-term viability of the Tactix, given their woeful record over the past decade. Losing continually made it difficult to attract sponsors and leading players. Supporters have remained loyal, but they feared they would eventually start voting with their feet.

READ MORE:
*Canterbury netball hits crisis point as Mainland Tactix annihilated by 49 goals

"My biggest concern with the Tactix is they become a dying product and this will have a detrimental effect in Canterbury if they're taken off us. This would be massive for the community," Foster, a former Canterbury player and coach, said.

"We run the risk of losing professional netball in our region."

Former Silver Fern Belinda Charteris is appalled by the state of Canterbury netball and is calling for change.
John Kirk-Anderson

Former Silver Fern Belinda Charteris is appalled by the state of Canterbury netball and is calling for change.

The duo both called for an independent panel to run the microscope over Netball Mainland and the Tactix. Foster said it could be easily done and supported the idea of an ex-Crusaders board member leading the enquiry.

​"I'd love to see a review and then for it to be an open document for stakeholders, so we can see how we can help.

"I'd look at bringing in someone to help with the process. Someone that's been there and done that at the governance level."

BOARD ISSUES

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Charteris, a key member of the successful Canterbury Flames side, was appalled by the state of Canterbury netball. She said it had reached "crisis mode" and whatever the Netball Mainland board were doing wasn't working. 

Both Foster and Charteris questioned the impact of the board and said they would be unable to name any of their members.

"[An independent review] should have happened five years ago. The writing has been on the wall for some time now. What has changed?," Charteris said.

"I know it's not simple, but the longer you leave something the worse it gets and it's got to that stage now. I feel for everyone involved because it's not nice going out there every game and potentially losing by that much."

Charteris said in her playing days teams were "shaking in their boots" when they faced Canterbury. She was distressed by the constant on-court struggles of the Tactix, which was demoralising for the whole netball community.

Eighteen months ago, Charteris and a group of former Canterbury players offered to assist the Tactix, but were unimpressed with the response they received.

"I've put my hand up several times and said I'm more than willing to help in any capacity and nope they don't want any help.

"It's devastating. It's just so sad to see Canterbury in that state because the red and black means so much, or in our era it did. It meant a lot to go out and put that dress on."

INEFFECTIVE BUSINESS MODEL 

The Tactix were in their 10th season of operation and Foster said the business model was broken. 

She was worried about Netball Mainland's high performance programme and their inability to develop and retain promising young netballers in the region.

"What does their business model look like because it's clearly not working. We've got to look at our business model and ensure we've got the right people guiding that business model and really working together to bring in some new and fresh ideas and some stability into that leadership."

Foster accused the Tactix of settling for mediocrity with both their results and at times recruitment of players. 

English import Kadeen Corbin, who has been underwhelming in her first four matches, was a prime example, she said. After losing former import shooter Mwai Kumwenda to the new Australian league, Corbin appeared to be the best of an average bunch of international shooters left for an import spot.

She believed the Tactix would have been better off in the long run giving the spot to a young player like Ellie Bird, even though Corbin brought experience.

Foster and Charteris were annoyed how Tactix players had been treated in the past, highlighted by Phillipa Finch finding out about her axing from the side in 2011 via the newspaper. Homegrown shooter Julianna Naoupu, a one-time Silver Fern prospect, had been mucked about and grown dissatisfied.

Charteris was dumbfounded highly-rated defender Jane Watson had slipped from the Tactix grasp. She gained a Silver Ferns trial while at the Tactix, but took her play to a new level after leaving for the Steel in 2015, breaking through into the New Zealand squad last year.

"Jane was one I picked years ago and said this girl needs to be looked after. You hit your head against a brick wall."

Charteris also spoke about the transition from secondary school to club netball, where the Mainland region was losing a large amount of players.

"Have we got people who know what they're doing in regard to bringing these young ones through so we can look after them?"

*The Tactix host the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic at Horncastle Arena on Sunday at 2pm.

 - Stuff

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