Ipswich coach's international reward
QUEENSLAND coach of the year Leah Ala-Outinen was an approachable and competent mentor before she left for South Africa.
She's returned from her first international success having learnt even more about getting the best out of young players.
Ala-Outinen coached the Australian 14 years six-a-side and seven-a-side teams that won two recent tournaments in Johannesburg.
Guiding national sides for the first time, the Ipswich Indoor Sports Centre manager was thrilled for her players and delighted with the experience.
"It was excellent,'' she said.
"They were a good bunch of girls and all wanted to learn really quickly so when we did training at the training camps, we got stuck into it straight away and different scenarios and what would happen and stuff like that.
"They bonded really well.''
Her skills acquired in Ipswich and working with state teams paid dividends.
Both Australian 14 years teams won their tournaments during 14 games over two weeks, separated by a short break.
The Aussies only lost one match to New Zealand in the six-a-side competition.
Ala-Outinen said her team's most thrilling win was a 57-56 victory over New Zealand's six-a-side opponents.
"It came down to the last second of the game and we got a two-pointer to help us win the game,'' she said.
"That was a good way to start the tournament off.''
The Aussie 14 years teams included seven Queenslanders, two players from NSW and a Victorian representative.
Ala-Outinen's opening challenge was getting the group together for the first time at Sydney airport and settling them into games after a "very draining'' 14 hour flight to Johannesburg.
However, after a three-day training camp, the Aussie girls responded quickly to the Ipswich coach.
The girls beat New Zealand 44-35 in the six-a-side final and overpowered South Africa 66-36 in the seven-a-side title decider.
"It was very rewarding,'' Ala-Outinen said, keen to apply her national coaching experience to future representative teams.
"It was just learning about the girls as well and how they adapt to playing at a higher level netball.
"If they don't understand what I'm telling them, they can come and approach me. I can explain it one-on-one because we all have different terminologies.
"And for me to understand their expressions and getting the best out of the girls.''
The 14 years success was part of Australia's overall impressive performance.
The Aussie 16s won the seven-a-side series and were runners-up in the six-a-side format.
Australia's 17s took out the six-a-side competition and were runners-up in the seven-a-side games.
The national 17 years mixed side were runners-up in both competitions.
The Aussie teams played against New Zealand, South Africa and South Africa Invitational combinations.
Ala-Outinen has a short break from coaching before overseeing the annual Junior State Championships at the Ipswich Indoor Sports Centre from September 21-24.
The new group of state teams will be selected from that carnival for the national titles in Springwood in late November.
After her first taste of international glory, Purga-based Ala-Outinen is eager to pursue her higher level coaching career.
"I'm keen to go again for both, absolutely,'' she said, referring to future state and national opportunities.