Coach Holland confident of Wildcats striking back

By Keir MurrayBBC Scotland
Denise Holland
Holland is confident that the young Wildcats team has much to offer

Glasgow Wildcats and Scotland coach Denise Holland is refusing to be downbeat despite the loss of their Netball Superleague franchise.

The Scots lost all 16 of their matches last season in the competition and their league place has now been taken by Celtic Dragons from Wales.

"We're disappointed but the Superleague is not the only way to prepare athletes for competition," said Holland.

"In one or two years' time, we're going to be able to compete with England."

The Superleague is run by England Netball and, following their review of the franchise, decided that the Glasgow side did not merit further inclusion.

But Holland told BBC Radio Scotland's Sport Nation programme that their departure after three years in the league should not be seen as a slight on the state of the game in Scotland.

"It was up to all of the franchises to go through a rigorous interview and presentation process," she said.

"England have got their own reasons and we did not pass the set criteria.

"It was just a decision that they took to put their own England athletes into the Superleague."

When the tournament resumes next year, it will feature seven English sides, one Welsh team and none from Scotland.

The tournament organisers told BBC Scotland: "The selection Panel scrutinised all 10 applications for the eight-team competition and it became clear that, from a performance perspective, Glasgow Wildcats were a long way from the required playing standard of the Superleague.

"England Netball have a willingness to explore how they can offer support, outside of the Superleague, for Netball Scotland's performance programme."

The national coach, though, defended the achievements of the team.

"We have made significant inroads into our performances over the first and second years," Holland said.

"We did compete; we're just not able to compete for 60 minutes.

"We have some of the youngest players in the whole of the Superleague. It was the only way to get them some experience."

Holland acknowledges the "limited talent base" for netball in Scotland - Netball Scotland has about 2,400 members - but argues that the number of players is increasing and suggests it is not helpful for the Scots to compare themselves with the English team.

"We competed against some of the best players in England," she said. "We must remember they are number three in the world.

"We have come a long way. Three years ago, we had really very little in the way of physiology; now we have real athletes."

The Wildcats brand is funded by Glasgow City Council and managed by Glasgow Life, while Scottish netball generally has an additional three key partners: sportscotland, Netball Scotland and the Commonwealth Games Council for Scotland.

The Wildcats' competitive future will be decided soon by its partners, with Holland determined that it will benefit the players.

"The key partners are all getting together and we have looked at a revised competition structure ahead of our 2013 World Youth Championship and, of course, Glasgow 2014," she said.

"We are going to be able to announce that plan B. It is exciting, it is tailor-making a competition structure that suits the Scottish athletes.

"It is thinking about the needs of those athletes, in terms of the training, practice and competition."

The Wildcats contribute greatly to the Scotland team, which is ranked 14th in the world.

Holland highlighted the importance of playing eight to 10 internationals a year - there are Tests in Aberdeen in December - and suggests that another small nation can provide the Scots with inspiration despite their loss of Superleague status.

"Northern Ireland do not have a Superleague, but they finished eighth in the world," she said.

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