Netball legends speak on record about our most popular women’s sport


Will to Win

New Zealand netball greats on team culture and leadership


The Silver Ferns have often had a bad rap in the court of media opinion, with significant losses to the Australians and surprise defeats at international tournaments over the decades. At other times, they are world beaters at the top of their game. What does it take to make the magic work?

Canvassing legendary captains and coaches across the decades – from Lois Muir and Leigh Gibbs to Bernice Mene, Ruth Aitken and Casey Kopua  – the authors of Will to Win evaluate the significance of team culture and leadership in New Zealand netball. The book also looks at the history of the game and includes comments from Farah Palmer on women in sport and leadership.

This is the first time the perspectives of those at the heart of netball have been the subject of serious analysis. Offering rare insights and revelations, Will to Win goes behind the scenes to evaluate the psychology of a women’s high-performance team – from the early days of the sport, where training schedules, travel, gear and nutrition were ad hoc at best, through to today’s highly-competitive, semi-professional environment, where sports science helps to drive the game.

Fostering the will to win in what has become an elite level sport for women, those interviewed for the book speak candidly about their experiences – career highs and lows, the impact of the Ferns’ intense rivalry with Australia; personal and professional challenges; hard work and desire to win; struggle for recognition; complexities of combining motherhood with competition netball.

We hear how players and coaches coped with increasingly high-stakes international competitions, heart-breaking losses, vagaries of social media, struggles for sponsorship and media recognition. Throughout, those selected to wear the ‘black dress’ with the silver fern had to strive and adapt, while maintaining their core focus on teamwork, and the values of respect, pride and hard work.

Will to Win takes a long overdue deep-dive into the psyche of New Zealand’s most popular team sport. Imparting wisdom about the significance of developing team culture and leadership in sport, business and life, it is also a practical guide that will inspire generations to come.


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