Kate Carpenter grew up in rural Canterbury on New Zealand’s South Island where there was a strong focus on playing multiple sports alongside life on the land.
Netball, though, became Ms Carpenter’s focus, initially as a player then a coach. But it was as a coach that she became renowned, initially at the age of 27 as the national coach of Papua New Guinea’s national team.
Since then, Ms Carpenter has coached another four national teams and was the inaugural coach of the New Zealand franchise, Central Pulse.
In a coup for Netball ACT, her netball journey has now led to Canberra where she will coach the ACT team, Capital Spirit, in the New South Wales Premier League.
“I basically go where there are opportunities and there was a great opportunity here,” Ms Carpenter said. “There will be similarities to where I have coached before but I haven’t been inside the Australian system before, so it will be exciting.”
It will also involve fielding two teams – open and under 23 – in an 18 round competition from the end of April, which will compliment her efforts with the NSW Premier League team and together they will feed talent into the Australian Netball League and the rebadged Canberra Darters.
“I enjoy watching young players come through. I want to give them every opportunity,” Ms Carpenter said.
There is now a defined pathway for the ACT’s elite players from the juniors to the State League to the NSW Premier League, and then to the Canberra Darters in the Australian Netball League and the Super League, Ms Carpenter said.
“The Capital Spirit will be an important stepping stone. There will be some girls in the program with the ability to play concurrently with the Darters.”
Already entrenched in the ACT Netball scene, Ms Carpenter is excited by the calibre of the players and coaches she is working with.
“The players have been given a great foundation. They are well-conditioned athletes and the coaches know their stuff. I am impressed with the support from ACTAS, the facilities, the coaches, the interaction.”
With over 10,000 registered members in Canberra, the sport is already one of the largest in the Territory. But with the establishment of this new pathway system, it now has the potential to capitalise on its prominence in terms of player numbers.