Defining success: my World Cup experience
In 2009, I realised I quite liked playing netball. Having spent the summer living with a GB Nordic skier, I used to hear her leap out of bed first thing to hit the gym before work every morning. Watching her train and learning about her ambitions to compete in the Olympics one day, I was inspired. I wondered if I could learn to play netball as well as Posy could ski?
The biggest competitions for netball are the Commonwealth Games and the Netball World Cup. I requested a trial for the Scottish National squad in 2009. Last year I competed in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and last week I returned from the Netball World Cup.
Alistair Cox, CEO at Hays and School for CEOs Faculty member, recently published an article highlighting some of the leadership skills business leaders can learn from their sporting counterparts. His list of leadership qualities includes:
- Effective delegating
- Supporting top talent
- Understanding your competition
- Strength of character
- And valuing the smaller victories as part of a longer journey towards greater success
Alistair’s fourth point resonates with me following my experience competing at the World Cup. The Scottish Thistles’ target was a 9th place finish and on the penultimate day of the competition we had our decisive match against Trinidad & Tobago. If we won this match, we would play for 9th & 10th. If we lost, we would play for 11th & 12th.
Of the 64 matches played over the competition, ours was the only match to finish on a draw.
This led to 14 minutes of extra time.
After which we lost.
By one goal.
There were tears.
However, the dust has now had time to settle, and when I am asked what my highlights were, this match is my immediate response.
This may seem like a peculiar answer. However, there is a simple reason why this is my highlight. This is the most high-pressure, intense challenge I have ever faced. It was a totally unfamiliar and new environment for me. We were five goals down at half time, yet the girls put their bodies on the line, fighting for every intercept, pass and goal to claw back the score.
We did this, and then the two teams went goal for goal in extra time, with Scotland just running out of time to equalise before the final whistle.
In Alistair’s article, he writes about a critical decision NFL coach Pete Carroll made in the Super Bowl XLIX, which resulted in his team losing possession and losing the game. Afterwards he is quoted saying “We’ll come out of this better than if we had won”.
It is impossible to learn experience. Not only did I experience a high-stake, high-pressure match, I learnt what it felt like to be a part of an amazing group of people, who gave everything they had to help each other achieve a common goal.
I have never felt so proud to represent my country and my team.