Spotlight on Girls National Academy

With the Girls National Academy now in full swing, Steph McNesby speaks to one of the Coaches and Jane Powell (National Talent Development Manager) about her work on the programme so far.

Sunday the 27th of October saw the first Girls National Academy Inter-Regional Tournament. With approximately 210 girls, broken down into 13 teams, each of teams played 6 short games. The tournament is designed to allow the girls to meet their counterparts from other regions and to give the girls some game based experienced following the first Regional training dates in August. The coaching team for the tournament came from all over the country and from a range of different coaching backgrounds, including current Local and School Development Officers.

Samantha Lillo, an American graduate, student/coach, had the opportunity to go down to Reading, and coach at the event. Samantha said: “It was a great opportunity for the girls to get the chance to play with girls their age from different schools that they would not normally play with, providing them with a new playing experience.”

The 210 girls who played in the Tournament at Reading, are all part of the 2013-14 Academy programme having travelled from the Academy regions of North, South West, South East London South and South East London North. Lillo adds: “It was good for the girls to see where other girl’s skill levels were at, helping them mature as players and improve their individual games’. With the variety of coaches spread out between teams, players were able to have one on one feedback within a team based environment and take advantage of the multiple coaching backgrounds.

Jane Powell, the new National Talent Development Manager, has been in the process of reviewing the Talent Pathway to get the best out of it for everyone involved.

“Competition is a key part of identifying talent in an appropriate environment. The tournament helps to bring the best young players together and this in itself helps the development of the players and the coaches.”
Jane Powell, National Talent Development Manager

Jane is looking to move this event to April in the next upcoming year rather than have it as the second activity of the programme. As Powell tries to align the Talent Pathway she would like to see more consistent results coming out of the academies. “In the next 5 years I would like to see a more consistent performance level coming out of the Regional Academies so that the overall standard rises.” Jane believes that if the girls and their parents understand the Talent Pathway and performance factors involved the Regional Academies can become a great asset within the Team England Talent Pathway. “Education of all sectors and development of key talent principles is key to success alongside the correct preparation, physical, technical, tactical, and nutritional programmes.”

In the upcoming year there will also be a new set of standards for the coaches to aspire to. “In the future the qualifications, qualities and skill set of the coaches will be advertised and coaches will be encouraged to meet the advertised criteria,” Powell adds. This will only help to improve the level of play that England will expect to see coming out of its academies. When asked what she would like to see passed down from the coaches onto these players Powell mentioned, “Key performance messages, intensity of practice and performance, determination, commitment and clear English Lacrosse messages, technical and tactical.”

England has a lot to be excited for in the forthcoming years from events such as this. The determination of not only Powell, but of her staff is inspiring. Women’s Lacrosse in England will see vast improvement under her as she helps to set the standard high and continues to strive for the best for all parties involved.