The Good Oil Tactix’ Sophia Fenwick knows a thing or two when it comes to parochial home crowds and the defender ranks a sea of red-and-black netballer supporters as one of the best.
“It’s why we love playing at home,” she said. “So we’re really looking forward to experiencing some of that support when we head to Timaru next week.”
A pre-season double-header against the Southern Steel at the Southern Trust Events Centre in Timaru on Friday, 12 March and Saturday, 13 March will also be an opportunity to put the hard slog of pre-season training into action on court.
“I’ve got a real love-hate relationship with the pre-season build-up,” Fenwick said. “It’s a different mindset that’s needed but it’s a good feeling to put that grunt work in and feel ready for those big games.
“I am looking forward to getting on court and switching into that game situation against the Steel.”
Friday night’s match is already sold out and the Fulton Hogan and Venture Timaru-backed event looks on track to sell out for the Saturday morning game.
Fenwick said playing in front of the general public was something the team did not take for granted following the COVID-disrupted ANZ Premiership last year.
“I’m certainly looking forward to this season and as a team going that one step further,” she said. “Our region is massive so it’s really nice to be able to play these games in Timaru and really start our campaign in front of our home crowd.”
The circle defender, who played for the Southern Steel between 2011 and 2015, knows the effects a supportive full-house can have on the performance of a team.
She clearly remembers stepping out on court in the blue dress in the ‘cauldron’ of the ILT Stadium Southland in Invercargill.
“When they’re cheering for you it’s amazing,” she said. “But I’ve been down there in opposing teams and it’s quite a different experience.”
She still rates a Canterbury crowd highly and will forever remember the ANZ Premiership record-breaking crowd which turned out to the Tactix’ only home game last year.
“We saw last year at our home game just how loyal and supportive our fans are,” she said. “I do think a Canterbury crowd is the best - they really are that eighth player.”
Fenwick said there was a drive from the team to go one step further this year having made the ANZ Premiership Grand Final for the first time in 2020.
“There is a real drive to get over the line this year and that starts now, with our pre-season and our games in Timaru.”