Former Silver Ferns player Temepara Bailey will make her netball comeback at the age of 43, named as a player-assistant coach for the Northern Stars based in Takanini for the 2019 ANZ Premiership season.
The descendant from Ngāpuhi was living in Thailand when she got the call, and despite her retiring from international netball in 2011, she says she's going to do everything she can to help the team win.
“Being out of the game for so long in terms of on court at that level at ANZ level,” says Bailey, “I knew I could do the training, it was just that long time out of the game and was it still the same being out on court.”
The 43-year-old retired from international netball in 2011, and says training in pre-season for the Northern Stars is a new experience.
“I don’t even think I did a pre-season because it's our break time from the (Silver) Ferns,” laughs Bailey, “So it's always just going back on court. I actually had a pre pre-season so when I was in Thailand Chloe sent- our trainer sent over a programme, and geez it was hard, but I think it helped coming into our current pre-season, it's conditioned the body a little bit more.”
The Stars have lost a lot of experience in the midcourt, with skipper Grace Kara out due to her pregnancy which saw Bailey leave her home in Thailand to join the south Auckland franchise.
She's known for her capacity to direct players on court and drive on-court team strategy, hence taking up the player/assistant coach role.
“I think being out on court, being in training you're actually coaching in there as well, actions speak louder than words sometimes and I’ve got the luxury of being out there with these girls, and giving that leadership out on the court.”
The Stars begin their 2019 campaign against the Southern Steel on February 24 in Hamilton.