Welsh Netball can confirm that Julie Hoornweg’s tenure as Wales Head Coach has come to an end, after a transformative 18 months for Wales’ elite national side.
Following Wales’ failure to qualify for the 2019 Netball World Cup, Hoornweg took charge of the senior team on an interim basis for the 2018 Commonwealth Games where she led the side to a best-ever result against New Zealand and a record win over Fiji. She then agreed to stay with the squad for 2019 to implement a new vision for the squad, establishing the ‘Welsh Way’ of netball – a new tactical doctrine that would help propel the team back up the International Netball Federation World Rankings.
2019 saw Wales go from strength-to-strength as Hoornweg led the team through Welsh Netball’s ambitious programme of 6 Summer Tests. In those games, Wales defeated higher ranking opposition in Malawi (for the first time ever) and Trinidad & Tobago at the Viola Arena. This was swiftly followed by two wins against Grenada.
Hoornweg’s winning streak continued at the 2019 Netball Europe Open Championships in Belfast where Wales beat hosts Northern Ireland, recorded a dramatic draw against England and won comprehensively against the Republic of Ireland. Wales secured a silver medal only very narrowly missing out on gold by goal difference.
By the end of 2019, Hoornweg had led Wales back into the top 10 of the INF World Rankings and the squad had welcomed 6 newly capped players. Her work mentoring Wales’ two assistant coaches, Sara Hale and Jenna Culley has also ensured that the ‘Welsh Way’ of netball will continue to steer Wales to success with qualification for the 2022 Commonwealth Games on the horizon.
Speaking about the impact Hoornweg has had on netball in Wales, Sarah Jones, Welsh Netball CEO said: “Julie has been a true leader for netball in Wales over the last 18 months and has been instrumental in the success that we have seen on and off the court in that time. I would like to thank Julie personally for her dedication to our sport and our country.
“Julie came on board at a time of instability unrest and uncertainty within the Wales performance structure. During her tenure, she never shied away from the challenges and the difficulties that lay ahead. Julie is a game changer – a true leader – who embraced the vision we have for netball in Wales and grabbed every opportunity to deliver success. She has exceeded the goals we originally set out and she has revived the Wales squad, its culture, and its expectations of itself.
“Julie has been embraced by everyone she has met, particularly the players and management team, which she has mentored, taught and led. She has been integral to the netball family here in Wales. She has laid strong foundations and expectations for the next phase in our ambitious journey and she leaves the squad and country in a far better place.
“Julie will be missed hugely by all of us, and it has been a privilege to watch her create, change and deliver. She will be an honorary Welsh woman forever more.”
Welsh Netball would like to thank Julie for everything she has given to the netball community in Wales throughout her time as head coach. Her legacy of transformation will help deliver future success and her work with the Wales senior team has inspired a new generation of ambitious young athletes to one day wear the red dress of Wales.