New Netball coach, Brad Smith.
New Netball coach, Brad Smith. Allan Reinikka

Code-jumper fascinated by netball

I'M not a code swapper insists Brad Smith when asked if he is Rockhampton’s own Karmichael Hunt.

The former Cougars coach is still committed to the club and has joined a team of “mature players” to play football on a Friday night in the Community competition.

However, he is helping out with some fitness work for the girls in the Capricorn Claws representative netball team and what is more he is enjoying the new experience.

“I have not really come over to netball, I have just been drawn into it,” he said.

At the weekend Smith was drawn even further into the sport than he might have expected when asked to make up team numbers in a Claws training run.

“Talk about clumsy, I played striker ‘oops’ goal shoot,” he joked.

Smith felt that while his approach on-court was little undisciplined, he gained some consolation in his performance being mirrored in the Thunderbirds televised match.

Smith’s interest in the sport came about with the support of his teenage daughter Shanita who is one of the developing stars of Central Queensland netball.

“I followed Shanita in the Bluebirds A-grade and in the Claws,” he said.

“I just became engrossed.”

With Smith no longer taking on such a time-consuming role as Cougars coach in 2011 he decided to study netball more closely.

“I like to see what they do at training and then bring it into their game,” he said. “It is good to see what they are trying to do.”

Smith said he has done a bit of the warm-up, fitness and sharpness work with the Claws and feels the girls are beginning to accept what he has to offer coming from another code. “ I’m not prepared to move in on the netball play and tactics,” he said.

Smith accepts that there is a huge difference between football and netball.

“It is a different fitness, the girls are a bit more intensive over three to five metres,” he said.

On court the players need good reactions and also practice deception, all within a confined area.

Perhaps the most satisfying aspect of being involved with netball is the attitude of the players. “That is one of things that really attracted me,” he admitted. “They want to learn and improve and be the best they can.”

With the Claws many of the girls travel from Gladstone or from out west to be a part of the squad and yet don’t complain.

Apart from playing club netball they have practice sessions with the Claws and also attend work out at Vector Health twice a week.

“And they love it, it’s a breath of fresh air,” he said.

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