OPINION: Since West Coast Fever’s Jhaniele Fowler was, deservingly, awarded another Suncorp Super Netball Player of the Year trophy – her fourth consecutive win – plenty were quick to label her as ‘just tall’ despite the ole holding shooter being one of the most tried and true arts of netball.
I have seen many shooters who stand close to Fowler’s roughly 1.97cm frame who leave their hold early, who don’t position their shoulders clearly enough, who get pushed to the baseline, who are unbalanced.
Okay, maybe I am just describing my own game?
Nevertheless, it is NOT and never will be about just standing there. Yes, Fowler is a force to be reckoned with and, yes, at times can feel the ‘same’.
But look at the massive reaction from the netball community when retired GIANTS Netballer Sam Poolman DISRUPTED Fowler to end the Marinkovich-era at Fever – how is that boring?
Or, when Fowler is allowed to come out a bit further and sink Super Shots proving her long range-prowess? (It is exciting, it would also be exciting as one-goal).
It is a style of netball that is often underpinned on how well the ball can actually be placed into the shooter.
What if a pass goes in from the midcourt, and it isn’t direct, is too flat, is too high, is too slow or is too fast, a defender might pick it off or the shooter might come off the hold and end up far from home (alone @ Sue)? Usually, a defender has a crack or the shooter looks for a re-feed.
But not Fowler. She makes it LOOK easy so many times because of her ability, strength and smarts.
Being more than tall.
Fowler’s core strength is also out of this world because she is a constant on the court and her body holds up.
It is not JUST about height.
The wonderful thing about netball is that the game requires a team to be all shapes and sizes to be able to play well at each position – and none of those shapes and sizes are dictated explicitly by position.
Yesterday, Victorian netball superstar and one of Australia’s most iconic athletes Sharelle McMahon was announced to be getting a statue at John Cain Arena, Melbourne (yes, Netball Victoria and CEO Rosie King!).
The same McMahon who stands at about 1.77m tall and played about 216 National League Matches and 118 times for Diamonds at GA, GS.
Obviously, she plays differently from Fowler but it just goes to show that height really isn’t the be-all and end-all.
Look at Magpie Sophie Garbin – a strong moving shooter who has one of the best holds in the league.
And before anyone reminds me that I picked Kim Ravaillion as a candidate for MVP, it is because Fowler had it wrapped up so I went left field. Why?
Because I want more people to talk about netball – let’s drive conversation and elevate this sport to where it deserves to be.