WHILE authorities maintain a tight lip on the new national netball coach, it has been revealed that an Australian Simone McKinnis has been recommended for the job.
Informed sources have it that Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) and Australian U-21 netball coach McKinnis (pictured) has resigned from her position to take up the role of Tanzania national coach.
Both the Ministry of Information, Culture and Sports and the Tanzania Amateur Netball Association (Chaneta) last week declined to confirm the report, saying they were still waiting for President Jakaya Kikwete's approval.
“We've already submitted Chaneta's recommendations to President Kikwete and we're waiting for a response,” a senior ministry official, who preferred anonymity, said. He was supported by Chaneta chairperson Anna Bayi.
It is reported that McKinnis, the former legend of Australian netball, will in her new role focus on the development of the national programme with specific emphasis on the progress of the national team, Taifa Queens.
Currently ranked 22nd in the world and fourth in Africa, Tanzania aims to be among the top 15 teams in the world by year 2012.
McKinnis represented Australia in 67 tests between 1986 and 1998 winning a Commonwealth Games gold medal in 1998 and World Championships in 1991 and 1995.
Australia's media reported recently that McKinnis had a huge impact at the AIS since her appointment in 2007 and ultimately leading the Australian U-21 team to victory at the 2009 World Youth Netball Championship in the Cook Islands.
And this resulted in Netball Australia General Manager of High Performance Natalie Wright-Boyd thanking McKinnis for her contribution to the programme.
“Simone was exceptional in her role as coach of the AIS netball programme and the Australian U-21 team and we thank her for her work over the past three years,” Wright-Boyd was quoted as saying.
“The progression of our emerging high performance athletes to prepare for challenges of international competition has been outstanding through her guidance and this was evident in the achievement of the Australian U-21 team winning the 2009 World Youth Netball Championship.
“This role with Tanzania will be an exciting and challenging one and we wish Simone all the best in this important position of developing netball in other countries. “
Acting AIS Director Phil Borgeaud also paid tribute to the outstanding contribution that McKinnis had made to both the Institute and Australian U-21 netball programmes.
“Simone has done a wonderful job as head coach of both programmes” Borgeaud said.
“For the past three years she has played an integral part in the development of Australia’s best young netball players.
“The Australian U-21 team won gold at last year’s World Cup with half of the squad members being AIS scholarship holders.
“Simone has proven to be a coach of immeasurable talent and we wish her all the best in her new coaching appointment with Tanzania.”
The AIS Netball Programme, which was established as one of the eight foundation sports at the Institute in 1981, is highly regarded as a world class development programme.
President Kikwete has offered to employ an expatriate coach for Taifa Queens to compliment Chaneta's efforts to boost participation and promote the game across the country.
The president is keen to ensure that the Queens continue to progress and has committed the government to paying the coach’s salary and living expenses.
Meanwhile, after successfully hosting the inaugural Tanzania International Netball Tournament in Dar es Salaam last year, the Tanzania Amateur Netball Association (Chaneta) is bracing for a more impressive event this time around.
Bayi said preparations are already underway and that they expect two teams from the United Kingdom to take part in the second edition of the championship scheduled for July in the city.
She said Scotland, which is ranked 13th in the world, and Wales (19th) have shown interest in participating in the tournament sanctioned by the International Federation of Netball Associations (IFNA).
“We're determined to organise a better tournament during this year's Saba Saba celebrations and the participation of both Scotland and Wales is a major boost,” she said.
Nine teams took part in the maiden tournament held at the ultra-modern National Stadium from September 28 to October 3, last year.
They were Malawi, Uganda, Zambia, South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and hosts Tanzania.
The tournament, which is aimed at improving the game, is one of IFNA's five-year plan of making many local Tanzanians familiarize with netball.
“It provides them with an opportunity to learn international rules and other tactics," said IFNA official Joan Smith.
By participating in the tournament and the Nations Cup in Singapore late last year, Tanzania received a welcome boost for their international exposure with an invitation for the ongoing overseas training tour to the UK.
For the past one week, the national netball team have been training in Manchester, England, and on Sunday they moved to Scotland where they will wind up the tour on Saturday.