05/03/2024

NETBALL AUSTRALIA: NWC2019 Australia vs Malawi. July 16, 2019. M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool, England, United Kingdom. Photo: Narelle Spangher, Netball Australia

The Inner Sanctum caught up with Queensland Firebirds assistant coach Clare Ferguson for an in depth chat about her journey.

Clare Ferguson is a legend of the Queensland Firebirds, playing an integral role in the club’s 2011, 2015 and 2016 premierships. Since her retirement, Ferguson has stayed active in the game as a mentor and in 2021 will return to the Firebirds as an assistant coach.

The return to Queensland has been the culmination of a coaching apprenticeship of sorts that has taken her right around the globe with the national team.

Newly appointed Firebirds coach Megan Anderson will have Ferguson in her corner as Queensland looks to return to its former glory in 2021.

The pair formed a great working partnership over their time at the Diamonds and both are hopeful that the rapport built at the national level can be utilised in their new endeavor.

The Inner Sanctum spoke to Ferguson on her partnership with Megan what she learnt at the Diamonds.

“I suppose Megzy (Megan Anderson) and I played against each other for a long time throughout my career up until she retired,” Ferguson said.

“She was the kind of person that I didn’t know expect for when facing up against her on court and what I knew about her from her playing style was she was incredibly clever and versatile and had really an amazing skillset at her disposal and would always in a really clever way on court.”

Despite never meeting her coaching partner off the court, Ferguson said the pair hit it off immediately.

“So I knew that even before meeting her, but didn’t know anything about her personally, (but) we were just able to develop a really nice rapport with each other. Obviously in combination with Lisa being the head coach and providing us with some guidance on how to further our coaching but we just see eye-to-eye on a lot of things and I think we challenge each other nicely and being honest and open with each other.

“I think her (Anderson) knowledge in the attacking space is second to none she’s really clever when it comes to that side of things. She also holds a lot of knowledge defensively I really enjoyed the way she could challenge me and ask me questions on things she’d bring forth, so we were able to work collaboratively from that perspective.

“I think as well at her heart Megan is just a kind and good person who has genuine interest in her players and the people she surrounds herself in.

“I think you can tell that when you meet her for us I think we formed a really nice connection and we got each other and valued the same things and our understanding on things from a cultural perspective and a competitive perspective aligned.”

The partnership between Ferguson and Anderson is set to be a collaborative, 360 affair with the pair hoping the playing group can bring plenty to the coaching table.

“It will be about continuing to work that and see how it fits and influences this playing group and also to see how they leave an impression on us and how they are able to continue to help and  develop us as coaches , I think it works both ways, we both learn from the players and they work with us.”

There’s set to be an adjustment period for the two given the Diamonds environment compared to the set up in Suncorp Super Netball tournament is vastly different, with the national camps only last over a week excluding the tours.

Still, Ferguson believes there’s plenty to take from her experience at the national level that will give the Firebirds every chance to succeed in 2021.

“I think it’s very different formats, the exposure to the Diamonds is not a week in, week out thing its more of a concentrated period where we go away on tours and things like that, I think within a diamonds environment I learnt so much.

“It was a big learning curve for me but in a really great way the value that comes from that holistic approach and management to players and viewing them as people first and players second.

“I think for me it was the value coming from being very intuitive and being able to sit and watch you can using the things that are there at your disposal in terms of PA, stats and all those sorts of things that are really critical but it’s about being able to sit there and read the game really effectively and just continue to develop those skills for me and rain in on that, and being instinctive on decisions around players and feedback and giving that in really key moments in matches.”

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