An exciting new-look shooting combination will feature for the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel in 2020. The franchise has secured the services of Trinidad and Tobago shooting star Kalifa McCollin, adding an unpredictability to the team’s attacking ranks.
McCollin, who is 1.80m tall, is likely to partner Steel’s 1.92m Jen O’Connell who has re-committed to the team. However, long-serving shooter Te Paea Selby-Rickit has opted to head north to the Tactix, while South African Lenize Potgieter will ply her trade in Australia next season.
The challenge of developing a new combination was eagerly anticipated by O’Connell.
“I’m super excited to be back for 2020 and can’t wait to build new connections. For me personally, I’m determined to work on being a more consistent player,” she said.
“Getting the chance to experience another style of play will be pretty cool and Kalifa will inject some international flavour into the team.”
Impressing in the UK’s Vitality Superleague for the past three years, McCollin’s superior accuracy earned her a place in the competition’s coveted All Stars team this season.
The 23-year-old sports psychology student was excited to embark on the next chapter in her netball career.
“I was buzzing when the Steel called. I told my dad first because between him and my mom he’s more calm. My mom overheard the conversation and before I could say anything she started crying tears of joy because she knows how hard I work,” she said.
“I’m very excited to be joining the Southern Steel. They’re a top team so it’ll be great to now be a part of such a strong unit.”
The ANZ Premiership was a drawcard.
“It is more competitive and a bit more physical. The style of play is something that I’ve always admired and I think that excites me most,” McCollin said.
“I’ve always strived for consistency and 90 percent and above shooting accuracy. In 2020 I intend to be a lot faster and stronger. I’d like to continue trying new things and adding bits of flair to my game.
“I have a tag line that I’ve taken with me throughout my career – “Netball is Art, the court is my canvas” – and that’s something I always remember when I set foot on the netball court.”
Selby-Rickit has been a loyal campaigner since joining the team as a 19-year-old in 2011 and admits it was a difficult decision to leave.
“I’ve called the south home for a number of years now. I’ve had so many people influence me with different coaches and players. I have literally grown up here and made some of my closest friends so leaving is very difficult but I feel like the time is right to make a change,” she said.
“I’m going to miss the steel a lot – the franchise has been like family to me and I’ve made so many memories with this club. I’ve been really fortunate to be able to play with my sister and my best friend for so many years – not many people get to do that week in and week out and call it a job so I’m really grateful.
“I really want to say a big thanks to the Steel community. They have been a huge part of the reason I love it so much here. I’ve lived a long way from home since I left school but it’s been made easier by the way in which they’ve taken me and my family in – including Te Huinga and Manaaki – and really embraced us and our parents, who always love coming south to cheer us all on.
“Playing at ILT Stadium is like no other netball venue I’ve ever played at so I’ll miss the atmosphere and all the supporters.”
The move was not just netball focused, with Selby-Rickit eager to spread her wings.
“For me it’s about growth and seeking something new to get out of my comfort zone. I’ve always loved Christchurch as a city and there’s a lot of new and exciting things happening there so I’m looking forward to moving north.
“Joining the Tactix gives me a chance to play with new people. Obviously having Jane as our captain who I’ve played with in the Steel before and know really well, she always speaks highly of the Tactix and the environment they have been creating.”