New Zealand hails Maria Tutaia as the Golden Girl

| Posted inWeekly Blog

The bar has been raised.  This was the game of all games.  It had everything and missed nothing. 
Those who have no interest in Netball found themselves glued to the set and the game kept all who watched there until the last goal was scored by New Zealand’s newly crowned Golden Girl, Maria Tutaia.
The first quarter was a nervous start by both teams and once the nerves left the battle was on.  The match ups through the court saw that the gloves were off and the most physical match up was between Susan Fuhrmann and Irene Van Dyke.
Norma Plummer had taken the option of height and also had seen Susan put Irene off her shots in previous encounters as well as cut off options for the New Zealand attacks to find her.  As disappointed as star GK Laura Geitz must have been, Norma’s decision paid off in the first few seconds of the game Susan came up with possession.  Susan shut Irene down and forced the attack end to omit her from many of their plays.
Well who would think the GA that has made the attack end struggle on many occasions would step up to the plate.  Maria Tutaia come on down.  What a proud moment for any coach who has had a hand in developing such an amazing player.  With Irene shut down Maria took over and was unstoppable.
It was only a few months ago when Maria was running all over the place and cutting everyone off in her attack end.  It was only a couple of months ago she threw many balls away and also wouldn’t release it to Irene.  It was a couple of months ago when she would tire and would fade completely out of the game.
What a turn around and as for her tendency to drift in and out of games, Aitken thinks a hard word or two might have cured her of that habit.
“We’ve challenged her to up her work rate and she has really responded to it. Also I think she now sees what she is capable of,” Aitken said.
I’ve mentioned in other blogs how important the GA is in steering the ship home.  The Australian’s missed Sharelle McMahon at GA as she makes such an impact on her team and inspires her team mates to dig deep.  At GS Sharelle looked like a caged lion and you could see on her face she just wanted to get out there and make a difference.
There was an important factor in the NZ team.  All on court and all on the bench were one.  They were like a wall of black.
Ruth speaks of belief and team.  On her thoughts of what has turned Maria around Ruth knows this common thread of ‘belief’ is an important factor.
“That belief and having the belief of others as well … has been really good for her.”
Belief was a word Aitken used a lot to describe the victory. Belief in their gameplan, belief in the fact they were as good, if not better, than Australia and, most importantly, belief in each other.
Working with Ruth in the past, we loved sports psychology and how it made an enormous difference in providing each player with a sense of ‘belief’.  In any sport sports psychology can give you the edge and the Silver Ferns have explored this right to the Gold Medal.
Congratulations to both teams for giving all Netball lovers, and those non-believers, the best Netball spectacle of all time.
Written By Melissa O’Brien