CEO proud of past, but looking to future

Lana Winders
Lana Winders
Hindsight is a beautiful thing - even more so when it shows you made the right decisions.

That is clear for Southern Steel CEO Lana Winders, who was ecstatic as the side clinched another home elimination final at the weekend's home Super Sunday.

It had been a five-year process to get to this point - which has netted the past two titles.

She also knew what the franchise did now would affect her vision of the Steel in another five years.

"I'd like us as a franchise to be more financially sustainable,'' she said.

"I also have a goal for our franchise in terms of the number of local players I'd like to be in the Steel.

"Currently I want 50% of the players to be from our local areas coming up through the grades and into the Steel.

"Right now we've achieved that goal, so we have to push ourselves to another level and make that even stronger.

"And [have] a high performance team that just continuously makes those finals series from now for the rest of its history.''

Making those finals series has become something of a given in recent years.

While for a time campaigners such as Jhaniele Fowler-Reid and Wendy Frew were influential in that, the baton has since been passed.

The trio of Shannon Saunders, Gina Crampton and Te Paea Selby-Rickit were all lured south as youngsters.

Initially the Steel went through a "pain period'' as it grew and they established themselves.

Now three of the side's most experienced and important players, it was clear it had been a good investment.

Then-head coach Janine Southby had been the driver behind that and Winders called it an "outstanding piece of visionary leadership''.

"Those girls came South because of her; she'd coached them in the New Zealand under-21s.

"She'd promised them an outstanding netball opportunity down here and that's what they got.

"If you track the last five years where we started with that to where we are now, you can see what a great investment that was.''

Building a culture the players enjoyed had been key to keeping them - something Noeline Taurua had helped take to another level.

That had been continued by present head coach Reinga Bloxham, who Winders is hoping to re-sign when her contract expires at the end of the season.

New players have been brought into the mix and the growth of midcourters Kate Heffernan and Kendall McMinn had been one of Winders' season highlights.

That could signal the start of a new cycle, a transition she hopes will be smooth.

"We've got another new crop coming through.

"So I guess our challenge now is to bring the new crop through but to reduce the pain period.''


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