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Carpenter On The Job

K ate Carpenter has made a huge transition from being a simple country girl to be one of the best netball coaches in the Pacific region. Her journey getting to
27 Sep 2014 12:08
Carpenter On The Job
Northland fullback Saint George Talei fends off a Tailevu tackler during their Skipper Provincial Cup clash at Ratu Cakobau Park (ground 2) on April 17, 2021. Northland won 16-11. Photo: Leon Lord

K

ate Carpenter has made a huge transition from being a simple country girl to be one of the best netball coaches in the Pacific region.

Her journey getting to where she is today has been a rather exciting one.

The bubbly 46-year-old Kiwi is still full of life and energy and explains that even from a young age she has been engrossed in sports and travelling overseas which contributed to molding her coaching career.

“I was born in Christchurch and that is pretty much where most of my families still are,”she said.

“I’ve been to a lot of places since I got the desire to travel and work overseas when I was a secondary school student.

“I lived in a rural area and all we did was play sport which was really important and it was a lot of different sports including netball and when I went to university that was the first thing I studied so I did a physio degree straight out of secondary school.”

She not only had the drive and interest in sport but also the brains as she holds a physiology and psychology degree from Otago University and a Masters in Pacific Studies from Canterbury University.

Kate started professionally coaching when she was 27 with Papua New Guinea and that is one place she holds close to heart and one she cannot wait to revisit.

“I coached the PNG Pepes when I was 27 and that is quite young to be a coach,” she said.

“When I went to PNG it wasn’t because of netball, I was working at the National Sports Institute as a physical education lecturer and then the netball side of it came afterwards where the opportunity to coach the Pepes presented itself and that was my first national team.

“That is why PNG will always remain quite special to me and I’m looking forward to the Pacific Games next year. I was in PNG for six years and I’ve never been back since.”

She has since coached in Singapore, Tanzania, Northern Ireland, Sri Lanka and the Central Pulse team in New Zealand.

With her love for netball, it is not just a sport to her anymore but an empowerment tool for women as netball is one of the most popular sports in the Pacific region.

“It’s not just a sport to me, netball means a lot of things and it changes depending on where I live or stay and that’s changed over the years,” she explained.

“Netball is predominantly a women’s sport throughout the world and typically it’s very different from other sports because women run it and women make decisions about it and women are the best at it.

“It is also an opportunity for girls or women to see the world and to see something quite different from their own environment and it provides different expectations. It’s a great game in itself, it’s fast and dynamic and who wouldn’t want to play it.

“It has now turned professional and it does give people the opportunity to make some money out of the game. Then there is the sporting side, where you are committed to it, working with others, but within all of that it’s a fantastic sport and its very popular in this part of the world and the people that play netball have become role models and are independent, smart and articulate, and we are very good at it.”

The amount of love and understanding Kate has for the sport, you would think she plays netball in her spare time but she describes herself as a better coach than a better player.

When asked if she missed playing netball her response was “hell no”.

Kate has been training with the Fiji Pearls for three weeks now, since arriving in the country for the Digicel Punjas National Netball Championships.

“I feel very excited and privileged to coach the Fiji side as netball is the next best team sport in the country to sevens rugby and they both share a lot of similarities because it’s a squad of 12, fast and dynamic.

“Fiji is a very attractive team to coach; they are good people and good athletes and it is valued here so much. Some other places in the world, aside from New Zealand, my profile is the biggest here, other places in the world netball is not important and not known so it’s quite a different lifestyle and I much prefer it here.” she said.

Kate is contracted with the Fiji Pearls for three years and is staying in Fiji by herself as she is not married. She said, with her job, having a family would only make decisions tougher.

“I’m not married,”she said.

“When I make decisions as to where I’m going to go, I make it for me and I don’t need to worry about uprooting family.

“It’s one thing to be a consultant coach internationally, to go and impart your knowledge and do clinics and preps for just a small campaign. And it’s another thing to go and live somewhere and do your job for some period of time.”

And speaking of family, her parents, Brian and Sally, have been two of the biggest fans of her coaching career, which is no surprise as her role model is her father.

“What is really funny is back in the day they used to come and watch me play sport but now they come and watch me coach and so people would ask “who are you watching?” and they will say they are watching me coach.” she said.

One thing that not many would know about Kate is that she lives in the moment and does not plan for the future.

“I know everyone is encouraged to set goals but I kind of fall into stuff and when I say I haven’t thought that far ahead, I haven’t. For now it’s just coaching Fiji.

“I was very fortunate that these opportunities presented themselves because coaching is not the most secure job.”

Her message to young women who want to take up the sport is; “It’s a great sport and it’s played at a lot of levels so there is something for everyone. With netball you are not quite sure where the sport will take you, so I guess the question is why wouldn’t you choose netball?”

Feedback: justine.mannan@fijisun.com.fj

 



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