Emily works so hard for netball in the Fishguard and Goodwick area

Emily with Rhian Homer and some of their young charges at a top matchFishguard Netball Club has been boosted by the return to her home town of Emily O'Connor, who has taken on the role of coach and is eager to see as many young girls as possible discovering the joys of a sport that is fast, highly skilful and well disciplined.
Emily is now a teacher at Ysgol Glannau Gwaun and some of the junior school girls have joined the netball club - and the numbers in training have been boosted to such a degree that where the club once had one team at under 15 level, with roughly a dozen players, they now have teams at under 11, 13 and 15 levels and they regularly have upwards of 30 turning up for training on Monday evening, from 7-8pm.

Great coaching team work

Emily O Connor"I share the coaching with Rhian Homer, who is a very good netball player alongside the fact that she has been a gifted middle distance runner with Pembrokeshire Harriers, and we work well together in our sessions.
It seems the respect is mutual because Rhian told us,
"I really enjoy my coaching role at Fishguard alongside Emily because I think we work together and have the same ideas about the game that we want to promote, like the need for commitment alongside self-discipline, but always with a sense of enjoyment and having fun."

So what about training sessions?

"We start up with some warm-up exercises," said Emily, "and then have what we affectionately call 'Boot Camp', which deals with fitness training, followed by attention to developing skills before we finish with a match situation and some warm-down exercises that we try to make good fun.
"We would still like to have yet more girls involved and at the moment we are encouraging some of our talented under 15 girls to think about starting out in coaching and getting their early qualifications before they leave school."

Loved netball from the start

Emily started out in netball when she was a pupil at Ysgol Iau Abergwaun and told us that she thought it was a great sport because there was no contact allowed and both boys and girls could play it together.
"We all loved being involved and I played Goal Attack, a position I've played in ever since.
"From there I moved to secondary school at Ysgol Bro Gwaun and I played throughout my time - and although we didn't have the strongest team in the county we always enjoyed ourselves.

Off to Cardiff Met – and back home to play

"Then I went on to study at Cardiff Metropolitan University and carried on playing there, but only as an extra-mural activity, rather than the more serious stuff, which was nice after plenty of hard work academically.
"I came back to play in Fishguard when I was 21 and completed alongside more experienced players like Kelly Morris, Lisa Starkey and Stephanie Hughes, who was a very good coach. It was a good time to be involved and I really enjoyed the competition, but also the great camaraderie that has always existed at Fishguard.

Fully focussed on coaching and umpiring

"Now my focus is on coaching and umpiring, after starting out almost by accident when I received a message from Sioned Page-Jones asking me if a would help out with the coaching and after a little thought I agreed to give it a try.
"The next step is to take up a coaching qualification with Netball Wales - and since I have already passed my basic refereeing and umpires course I am about to take the netball 'C' award test because at the moment I umpire all three teams most Saturdays since we have to provide an official for each game. I was also asked to umpire the Pembrokeshire Hub trials this November.

Family matters

That Emily should be involved in sport should come as no surprise because her father is Sean O'Connor, rightly regarded as one of the top referees in local football who was a fine player and astute manager at Goodwick United before he took up the whistle.
Emily also played in defence for Goodwick United juniors, where Sean was coach, and at Ysgol Bro Gwaun with Mrs Sioned Page-Jones - and played hockey as well at that time.
She would also list her mother Beverley as a terrific supporter in all that she does whilst sister Sophie also played sport in school,playing both at county level in football and netball.

Terrific upsurge of interest

Back on the netball front, no-one is more delighted than Emily at the upsurge of interest in Fishguard Netball Club in terms of young girls being involved.
"We play our matches on Saturdays against the likes of Pembroke, Haverfordwest, Narberth and St Davids in the dome at Tasker Millward School and it is competitive but great fun, other than the fact that there is only one court and so there is a bit of waiting about between games.
"I think it is a good idea that each team picks the opposition's best player and the girls enjoy their mention in the local papers and on Radio Pembrokeshire.

A ‘versatile’ group

"Our last competition, to round off a busy season, was what was known as a 'versatility tournament' at Pembrokeshire Leisure Centre where the girls’ names were put in a hat and drawn out into teams just for the day.
"There were players from across the county and our girls had a great time playing in a range of new positions and with new team-mates from other clubs as a means of widening their experience in sections for under 11s and under 13s and 15s combined. It was here that one of our Under 13’s players was awarded players’ player for the entire league season."

And finally . . .

So when the season was more or less ended she could take a deserved rest from her commitment to junior netball in the Fishguard/Goodwick area before returning to recently when it restarted in October.
Another busy season has begun with another three teams registered and we can say with some certainty that the game is in good hands in that area with coaches of the calibre of Emily O'Connor involved!
Emily O'Connor
Emily with Rhian Homer and some of their young charges at a top match