PREPARING for her first senior netball grand final, Bridgewater goal defence Meg Allen’s thoughts quickly turned to her 2018 season coach Claudia Powell.
“Claudia has done a great job to get us to a grand final in her first year,” she said.
“It would be nice to reward her had work and dedication with a premiership.”
If anyone is familiar with the pressures that confront a young, first-year coach like Powell, who was 21 when she was appointed earlier this season, it’s Allen.
Only 22, Allen was the Mean Machine’s A-grade coach in 2017, and led the team to a fifth-placed finish.
Twelve months on, she may no longer be calling the shots so to speak, but Allen remains a definite on-court leader for the Mean Machine, who clash with Calivil United in the premiership decider at Bridgewater on Saturday.
The dependable fourth-year defender described her season free of the coaching responsibilities as ‘different, but nice’.
“I have been able to concentrate on my own game a little bit more and not have to worry about trainings and what not,” she said.
“That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy coaching, I will do it again at some point.”
With little separating the two grand final rivals in their three previous encounters, a quality and tight-knit Mean Machine defence, featuring Allen, goal keeper Ash Donnan and wing defence Anita Dorrington, shapes as pivotal to Bridgewater’s chances against the Demons.
Allen believed the trio had clicked just as quickly as they had come together.
“Ash has just come to the club this year and has done fantastically well – I love playing with her in the ring,” she said.
“Anita too has just come to the club and is doing really well.
“I like to think everyone is playing their part, but we are very lucky to have those two – it’s been a very enjoyable year.
“I guess I could say that about the season as a whole.
“It would be great to get a premiership and we are playing for one, but at the end of the day you are playing to have fun and we’re lucky we’ve done that.
“Everyone is really friendly and I genuinely enjoy hanging out with these girls.
“I’m sure everyone (in the team) thinks like that and that definitely helps and shows on court.
“When you all get along, you definitely play better as a team.”
If Bridgewater is to overcome Calivil United and score their first flag win since 2011, Allen, who played her junior netball with Mallee Eagles, believed her side’s three goal semi-final loss to the Demons might eventually be viewed as the turning point.
“We were disappointed, but I’m sure it gave us more motivation. Since then we’ve come back and played really quite well,” she said.
That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy coaching, I will do it again at some point.Meg Allen
“We’ve obviously got a lot of good netball left in us as well; we haven’t had a week off, so hopefully that can continue on.
“Calivil have some great players across the court, so I’m expecting it to be tight.”