England Netball legends Serena Kersten (née Guthrie) and Jo Harten are to temporarily join the Vitality Roses’ support team with a key focus on helping prepare and support the team for the upcoming Netball World Cup which takes place from 28 July to 6 August 2023.
Kersten and Harten join Jess Thirlby’s staff as Leadership and Culture Coach, and Support Coach respectively.
Kersten has already been working with the team, both in January and at the recent UK preparation camps, and Harten will meet up with the team in Stellenbosch, South Africa later this month where the squad will be finalising their preparations for the Netball World Cup at a training camp.
The move aims to capitalise on the two former Roses players’ extensive experience, expertise, and passion for the Vitality Roses, and will see them be actively involved in training sessions, match analysis, mentorship and guidance to players.
After making over 117 appearances for her country, Harten retired from international netball in April 2023.
Alongside Kersten, the pair played key roles in one of the greatest moments in the history of the sport when the Roses won a Commonwealth Games gold medal in 2018.
Speaking about her first coaching appointment, Jo Harten said: “Having the opportunity to work alongside the Roses in an off-court capacity is a very exciting prospect. My passion for the squad and its success remains the same as when I was a player, I’m looking forward to positively contributing in whatever way I can.”
With illustrious careers spanning over 15 years, Kersten and Harten are widely recognised as two of England’s greatest-ever players.
Serena Kersten commented: “It’s great to be back working with the girls in a different capacity. My role in camp is primarily supporting the leadership and culture for the team. They’re an incredible group of athletes and it’s great to be back in the Roses environment.”
Commenting on the news, Vitality Roses Head Coach Jess Thirlby added: “Continuing to harness Jo’s experience of playing internationally over an extended period of time and of this Roses team and environment feels like not only the right thing for us to do but also helps to give us a competitive advantage heading into this World Cup. Her aptitude for wanting to help others perform at their best and her love for the Roses is clear for all to see and she will be a real asset for us through to Cape Town.
“As a player, Jo has always managed to strike the balance of being both demanding and light-hearted. People want to listen when she speaks, such is her credibility in the global game and I have no doubt she will support the team selflessly. We all look forward to welcoming her back and working with her. She will play a key role in sharing her knowledge with the shooters in particular, in supporting our leadership team and in readying our reserves should they be needed to step in during the tournament.
“With Serena, everyone knows what an incredible role model and motivator she is. It was a natural next step, post the arrival of her daughter Remi, to think differently and innovatively about ways in which Serena’s skill set and ability to read both people and environments so intuitively could be used with this Roses team. We got started in January in the Jamaica series and her impact was immediate. Having played at five international major tournaments and been a captain of the Roses, Serena’s understanding of high performance and her ability to drive, develop and support other players’ leadership abilities can only benefit this team. I’m delighted that she has joined us in camp with Remi, bringing that infectious energy and passion that she so often showed on court.”
The full list of staff supporting the Roses on their journey to the Netball World Cup are:
|Jess Thirlby||Head Coach|
|Sonia Mkoloma||Assistant Coach|
|Liana Leota||Technical Coach|
|Jo Harten||Support Coach|
|Paul Dring||Team Manager|
|Stephen Breisner||Strength and Conditioning Coach|
|Pippa Baldrey||Performance Analyst|
|David Parsons||Performance Director|
|Serena Kersten||Leadership and Culture Coach|
|Rebecca Levett||Performance Psychologist|
|Elliott Newell||Performance Psychologist|
|Sarah Green||Coach Developer|
|Lisa Hyland||Team Doctor|
|Lois Mackay||Sports Scientist|
|Terri Paulson||Head of Performance Support|
|Sabrina Heimler||Performance Lifestyle Practitioner|
Jo Harten will continue to work with the Vitality Roses’ coaching team beyond the Netball World Cup, and will travel to New Zealand to work with the team for the Taini Jamison Trophy a three-match international test series from 24-30 September, and then the FAST5 Netball World Series. The full staff team for the New Zealand series will be announced, along with the selection of the playing squad, after the World Cup.