We sat down with newly appointed Magic coach Mary-Jane Araroa to talk through this season and her goals looking forward.
What did you learn in your time as assistant coach, especially when the results weren’t necessarily what you wanted?
“No they weren’t and you know we have underperformed and we all know that as a collective and that’s at all levels within our little rōpū [group] and so I guess from my perspective, it’s been a huge learning in terms of my ability to draw from other experiences that I’ve had that hopefully will allow us to rise again to our legacy.”
How important was keeping the positive attitude to the team this year?
“Oh extremely...many of our girls can share experiences where they’ve been in teams that haven’t been successful and it hasn’t helped keep them together so staying positive and driving them to be motivated to keep turning up, it’s been really key for them and I do believe they have drawn strength on each other just to keep going.”
What does the off-season look like - I assume you’re very involved in contracting at the moment?
“Yeah definitely, talking with our General Manager Gary Dawson and so we’re consulting with each other every day around our player recruitments. So we are looking for players who are able to meet some of the Silver Fern fitness standards, I’ve been quite clear about wanting those types of athletes with us, with Gary and so we are setting ourselves a challenge ahead to try and get that right type of superior athlete in our environment. We’re looking at some of our players that are injury free but who are also able to fit in our Magic environment as well.”
What’s your specific vision for the Magic, not necessarily results-based but what you want the team to feel like?
“My vision really for this team is to inspire some superior athletes. And when I talk about superior athletes, they’re wanting to perform as well and provide and deliver a performance and so I think at times we get lost in the transaction of things and we forget actually we’re here to perform and if we perform well, we will get the right result.”
What would you say to Magic fans who are still supporting the team - what can they expect from 2022?
“Well you can certainly expect a winning team, coming back and I align it to the phoenix rising from the ashes and that’s certainly something that I would like to see of our Magic team is to rise to the occasion again and it is around restoring that legacy and demonstrating that we are and we will continue to be one of the top franchises to contend with, with this ANZ competition. The ultimate goal I guess is to get to Finals Series for 2022, and we are setting ourselves up with that. I certainly want some stronger collaboration with our Silver Ferns coaches and some of their technical coaches and I want to align our campaign a wee bit so that it is starting to produce some real athletic excellence. The fans to date have been outstanding, and I just can’t believe how much love and support that they have given us, through this season in particular, and really humbled so I am acutely aware of the support this region has and how strong it is, and it’s very alive and the high expectations that they have of us as well and I want to take that challenge and I want to meet it and I want to give it back to our fan base, to our members to say “we are back.”