England Netball is delighted to announce that Kat Ratnapala and Sonia Mkoloma will be working with Jess Thirlby as assistant coaches during the Vitality Netball Nations Cup.
The upcoming series will see the Vitality Roses face Jamaica, South Africa and World Champions New Zealand in a highly-contested tournament.
Both Kat and Sonia have recently supported Vitality Roses Head Coach Jess Thirlby, with Sonia assisting with the Australia and New Zealand tour while Kat assisted during the South Africa test series. However, this is the first time the three have worked together collaboratively as a team.
“This is our first time together as a three but what’s great is I think everybody’s really open and honest and I think we’re working really well collaboratively,” said Thirlby.
“We’ve all played together before, we’ve been there and done it and I think together it’s hopefully a really strong unit. As a Head Coach you want some critical coaches and critical friends and I feel really well supported, while at the same time I know that they would always speak up if there’s stuff that they think we can do better. It’s a perfect combination.
“It will be good to journey through the Vitality Netball Nations Cup with these guys”
Sonia, an experienced former Vitality Rose, has talked about her excitement of working with the team again, saying; “We had them in Australia and New Zealand as an England A group and seeing the progression they made when they went to South Africa and obviously winning that series was so important.
“I think that the work that Jess and Kat have done has been amazing so watching the girls keep developing and building has been exciting to watch.
“Coming into this environment with girls that I actually know makes it so much more comfortable and just being here for the Vitality Netball Nation Cup prep has been exciting,” she added.
Kat, Head Coach for Vitality Netball Superleague team, Saracens Mavericks, praised the squad’s effort and commitment in the build up to the tournament.
“The biggest thing is the progress and the connections that they’re having on court. The time that they’re having on court is obviously testament to the hard work that they’re doing in camp and in training. We’re excited to get on court as a coaching staff and as a squad,” she said.
Despite their praise of the team, the three understood that they couldn’t be naïve when thinking about the upcoming tournament.
“It was a fantastic confidence boost for this group to go out to South Africa and get that away win series, which is no easy feat at all but we’re not complacent. We know that success doesn’t keep continuing without a lot of hard work and we’re hitting some of the top teams in the world again,” said Jess.
“I think what’s really important is that the girls are a fantastic group. We’re really lucky to work with a group that are definitely keen to learn. They’re embracing their opportunities, they’re a joy to work with and their work ethic is second to none. I think the true test now will come as to how do we pitch up against these next couple of top nations in the world.
“We’re going to hit three very different styles of opposition and some of this group have not really experienced that before, so how we adapt and move from game to game is important. We’re going to throw everything at it and who knows we might surprise a few people again.”