A weekend at the Fast5 Netball World Series

Howdy – it’s me, back for a quick life update!

I’ve been super busy over the last few months finishing off uni, but now that I’m done I’ll hopefully have more time to post some stuff up here – so here goes:

Over the past weekend I was lucky enough to be part of the media team for the 2017 Fast5 Netball World Series.

I went in with a completely open mind – I’ve never done anything quite like it before, but I would be able to use skills that I’ve been building as a media/comms/journalism student over the last three years, plus I basically live and breathe netball… how hard could it be?

Well it turns out it can be pretty difficult – that didn’t stop me from having an absolute ball of a time, though!

My role over the weekend was to be a flash-quoter for the Fast5 media service – yeah, I’ll be honest, I didn’t really know what exactly I would be doing, but I thought as long as I was kind of near the action I’d be good to go.

Well, it turns out that the role definitely involved getting up close to the action – court-side, in fact – and getting the opportunity to interview a player from each game I was covering… I ended up a fair bit closer to the action than I expected or ever dreamed of!

(You should have seen my face when our team leaders were going over my role, I thought my face was going to split in two from smiling so hard… no shame!)

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Our view of the Fast5 court from the media bench.
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How close we were to the court – the Jamaican Fast5 team shortly after their loss to England in the gold medal match.
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Our media bench – just a little further down were Liz Ellis, Sharelle McMahon and Cath Cox!

I’m breaking up my writeup of this weekend into day one and day two – so without further ado, lets get into what I was up to over the weekend!

DAY 1

Day one was overwhelming to say the least. We had toured Hisense Arena and been briefed on what we were doing earlier in the week, but I still managed to run late and get lost upon arrival. Good start, I know.

Those of us who arrived early sat in on the media bench for the opening ceremony which was pretty dang cool. We were stationed in the same spot for the entire two-day period, which made it easier to settle and get down to business.

After each game I covered I had a game to transcribe my interview recording and then a game free to watch or wander around the arena. For most games I went down back to the media centre to transcribe and came back out within ten or so minutes, but for a few of the better games I tried to transcribe on the media station beside the court so I could be near the action. It was more stressful this way, but when it comes to the Aussie and Kiwi rivalry you don’t want to miss a second!

I was teamed with Jarrad and Jacob for the weekend and we were on shift two. This meant we were stationed on games 2, 5 and 8 for day one, and that I didn’t have to worry about covering the first game of the tournament between Australia and Malawi. Once the game ended, however, I realised that I didn’t have any clue what I was doing. It was like everything I’ve learnt at uni about interviewing had somehow escaped in the last half hour!

Fortunately I recovered quickly and was ready to go once our first game (Jamaica v South Africa) began. As we didn’t really know many of the players we kind of went into the game blind… and the interviews in a similar fashion! I had been warned that it may be a bit difficult to get my questions answered with lots of journalists around, so I really didn’t prepare anywhere near as much as I should have…

I interviewed South Africa’s captain Maryka Holtzhausen and you can imagine my was surprise when I ended up getting a one-on-one interview with her. Luckily I know netball well enough that I was able to ask her a few questions with little to no preparation or notes!

As you can kind of tell from my voice, I was a little bit overwhelmed and starstruck but I made it through… I think. It seems like I got some good quotes out of her regardless of my pretty awful questions and interviewing, but we all have to start somewhere, right?! Given my lack of preparation I think I went pretty well for my first time around, even if my questions were a bit generic.

The second game I covered was between England and Malawi. By the time this game came around I knew what I was doing – I even had a pen and paper ready to go! I got the opportunity to speak to England netballer Helen Hausby following their comfortable win against Malawi.

I clearly was still a bit shaky asking questions my second time around, but it was HELEN HOUSBY so I think as a goaler I was allowed to feel a little bit intimidated! I like to think I don’t sound as nervous in this interview, but given my hesitation there’s still a lot to work on.

My last game for the day was between England and South Africa. England won comfortably again so I was easily able to come up with some questions for my next interviewee: Serena Guthrie. !!!!!!!

You can tell by this point that I was feeling a lot more comfortable and getting to the point where I was able to tailor questions to the game itself rather than the generic questions I started out with. This is kind of where I started getting better at figuring out my best questions with only a few minutes notice of who we were chatting to.

For this game I ended up transcribing courtside so that I could watch the Aussies and Kiwis battle it out – it was a fraction more stressful because I had to blast the interview through my headphones to be able to hear but it was worth it because the game was fantastic to watch! It makes such a difference when its your netballing idols on the court in front of you, it was a good incentive to get the transcription completed ASAP!

The Australia v New Zealand game was the last for the day so after that we were able to head off. At the time I don’t think I noticed how frazzled I was from speaking to famous netballers all day, but I clearly was a bit out of it because I managed to get on the wrong train home! WHOOPS

DAY 2

Day two started similarly to day one. I turned up early to start the day by watching a close game between Malawi and South Africa, before my first game of the day: Australia v England. This time around I was more starstruck by the Aussies and fortunately I was given the opportunity to chat to Ash Brazill, rolling C for the Diamonds.

Because it was an Aussie game, I finally realised what everyone meant when they said we needed to get our questions in quick! I managed to squeeze in my question first and sadly didn’t get another in, but was still pretty chuffed that I got in there before the actual journos!

My second game of day two was between New Zealand and Malawi – we didn’t realise until right at the end, but if New Zealand lost that game they would have been out of the running for the bronze medal match against the Aussies. We had a bit of a frantic time in the last few minutes – I had all my questions tailored towards a New Zealand win and in the meantime our team leader Alex was trying to find out who would go ahead into the final if they lost. It was a close game, probably the closest of the series, and it definitely made us on the media bench anxious trying to sort out questions!

I was given the opportunity to interview New Zealand captain Storm Purvis.

Unsurprisingly I sound a little bit shaky following the game! Luckily Storm was really friendly and forgiving of my little muck-up which was awesome. Looking back, I think my questions about the game were stronger than I had asked prior, which definitely helped build some confidence before my last game of the day – the bronze medal showdown between Australia and New Zealand.

The Aussies v Kiwis went similarly to day one – a strong win from the Aussies, but still a really good game to watch. I got to interview Australian Fast5 captain Kate Moloney and even though I only got one question in among the other interviewers, I still managed to squeeze it in – that’s what matters, right?!

I finally got the opportunity to tailor a specific question to the interviewee!!!!!! That was one of my main aims for the tournament – to develop my interviewing skills enough to be able to actually converse with the player and get a different response, so it was pretty awesome to be able to work up to that and ask it to Kate Moloney herself.

Prior to transcribing my final interview of the weekend I managed to be seated super close to an absolute legend of the game and one of my netball inspirations – Sharelle McMahon! It was amazing to get the chance to speak to her, even though I was shaking in my non-existent boots and stuttering over all my words… hopefully I got the point across that I’m a big fan and that, as a goaler and now media personality, she has been a great source of inspiration for me from a young age.

The last game of the series was the gold medal match between Jamaica and England – as a massive Geva Mentor fan, I obviously was cheering for England! It was another close match, but England came out with the victory which just about everyone was happy about – the English team were hilarious and upbeat all weekend, so it was a much deserved win to an amazing side.

Following the medal ceremony us media volunteers were finally allowed access to the court! We all got some photos, a good group photo of the media team all together and then a few of us managed to chase down some English players which was just awesome!

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The victorious English Fast5 team celebrating with confetti, post gold medal match.
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England captain Ama Agbeze.
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England goaler Helen Housby.
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England goal keeper and all round legend, Geva Mentor.
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Some of the Fast5 media team on court post gold medal match.
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Found some gold medallists!
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Found some gold medallists – part 2!

Thanks to the Fast5 for the amazing opportunity and the rest of the media team for making this past weekend so much fun – and of course a massive thank you to all the players who were willing to chat to little old me with my cracked iPhone (courtesy of the Hisense basement/velodrome) and sometimes iffy questions.

I had the BEST time and reaaaally hope they’ll let me come back next year – cross you fingers!

 

Anyhoo, ciao ciao for now!

Soph

 

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