New Netball South community manager Jo Ward immersing herself fulltime into netball
The chance to immerse herself fulltime in the world of netball proved too hard to resist for Jo Ward.
As the new community netball manager at Netball South, Ward will play a key role in the delivery and growth of the code throughout the southern region of New Zealand.
"Netball has always been my sideline passion and now I have the chance to work amongst it and have a positive impact on the future of the game so that's really exciting," she said.
"The strategic thinking aspect of the role really appeals to me. The focus needs to be on how we can continue to evolve the game for all members of our netball community in the south."
Taking up the game in her days as a teenager, Ward's extensive netball repertoire also includes coaching, managing and umpiring, with a large involvement in the southern club netball scene.
A 17-year dedication to the St Mary's Netball Club was reflected in Ward being bestowed a Service Award earlier this year.
"It was definitely unexpected but when they started talking about my life in netball I realised how significant the sport has been for me over the years," she said.
The diversity of her own experiences would prove beneficial.
"It gives me a sense of 'what would have helped me in those roles' so it definitely provides valuable insight in the various areas," she said.
Knowing the positive impact netball can have, Ward is passionate about the future of the sport in the south.
"There are so many opportunities for netball to continue its great momentum. Changes to the New Zealand competition at the elite level have been great and as a region there's opportunities for us to enhance how we feed into that and contribute to the future of the game both locally and nationally," she said.
Ward's extensive professional experience includes over a decade working for the Ministry of Social Development, latterly as manager of the Gore and Balclutha branches. She begins her role with Netball South on October 16.
"It's an ideal time to start because you're not in the thick of the season so you can take a look at the bigger picture."
Netball South chief executive Lana Winders welcomed Ward to the team.
"We are delighted to have attracted someone of Jo's calibre to the Community Netball Manager role. She exudes positive energy and brings a wealth of leadership and service experience. This balanced with a long history of involvement in netball at club level makes her a perfect choice for the role," she said.