In preparation for next month’s FIBA Women’s Asia Cup, the Sky Sport Tall Ferns will assemble for a preparation camp this weekend – before heading to Europe for friendly games against a trio of basketball powerhouses.
Head Coach Guy Molloy has today named a 12-strong squad for Europe, taken from the wider depth chart of Tall Ferns players. They are: Stella Beck, Tayla Dalton, Penina Davidson, Kendell Heremaia, Grace Hunter, Ash Kelman-Poto, Charlisse Leger-Walker, Krystal Leger-Walker, Tera Reed, Ash Taia, Lilly Taulelei and Ritorya Tamilo.
The Tall Ferns two-week tour of Europe sees the squad face the Serbia, Turkey and Poland national teams over a five-game series of international friendlies. The FIBA Women’s Asia Cup then tips off in Sydney from 26 June – 2 July 2023, with the Tall Ferns taking on Korea, China and Lebanon across three games of group play.
Coach Molloy says that a range of availability issues have impacted on the selection of his squad for Europe.
“I see Europe as a solid test event for our players to gain experience for the Women’s Asia Cup; but availability means that we’ll lean more on players from our wider depth chart for this tour,” says Molloy.
“Two players from our wider depth chart have been added back into the immediate squad for the camp and tour, in Grace [Hunter] and Esra [McGoldrick]. Grace comes in as she’s positionally similar to Mary Goulding; a like-for-like player in terms of being a wing.
“And Esra has been added for training depth and to re-introduce her back into the wider squad. Tahlia [Tupaea] and Chevannah [Paalvast] are out due to injury while Lauryn [Hippolite] is with the U23 3×3 National Team bound for China. These players – and all of our immediate squad – are still well in the frame for Women’s Asia Cup in a month’s time.”
Molloy says that the shocking news of Mary Goulding’s accident last weekend has rocked the Tall Ferns camp. His immediate focus has been to help the players and staff to start coming to terms with the tragedy for themselves.
“Understandably the players have been in the same state of shock that I’ve been in, and they’re all just trying to process something that really can’t be processed. In terms of helping players to deal with it, we’ve organised a counsellor to be in attendance at camp to talk to the players. Out of respect for Mary and her family who are devout Catholics, I’ve also organised a chaplain to come into camp and offer a brief prayer for Mary.
“We’re in communication with the Goulding family and are trying to support them as best we can – and in turn they want to support us through this too. Mary’s family have asked me to read a statement to the Tall Ferns players which I’ll be doing at camp on Sunday.”
For Guy, it’s been a difficult battle to balance his emotions around Mary with the need to mentally and physically prepare his squad for Europe and the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup.
“It’s difficult to talk about, it’s been very hard to process what’s happened to Mary – who we all just love so much and is a huge part of our Tall Ferns family.
“My job is to come in and feel the power and connection of our players and staff being together, and just begin some kind of journey towards a healing with it. I’ve got to find the will to lead our practice sessions and demand high performance – to be honest I’m not quite sure if there’s a manual on that.”
Guy says that the key message for his players is that basketball is not the important thing.
“Mary’s recovery is what matters and what’s important. I think as a squad we’ll go in and compete in the moment, and we’ll be in that moment with a perspective of gratitude and thankfulness of what we have – because Mary is an example of someone who’s very dear to us all, who now may not have that [opportunity] again.
“So I think that’s the lesson.”
Tall Ferns Tour of Europe
31-May – 13 Jun; Tall Ferns Europe Tour:
- 4 June vs Serbia, played in Belgrade
- 5 June vs Serbia, played in Belgrade
- 6 June vs Serbia, played in Belgrade
- 9 June vs Poland, played in Istanbul
- 10 June vs Turkey, played in Istanbul
Tall Ferns Squad of 12 for Europe Tour
Stella Beck, 51 caps
Tayla Dalton, no caps
Penina Davidson, 53 caps
Kendall Heremaia, 4 caps
Grace Hunter, 0 caps
Ash Kelman-Poto, no caps
Charlisse Leger-Walker, 31 caps
Krystal Leger-Walker, 18 caps
Tera Reed, 6 caps
Ash Taia, 9 caps
Lilly Taulelei, 3 caps
Ritorya Tamilo, no caps
Esra McGoldrick (camp only), 7 games
Guy Molloy – Head Coach
Jody Cameron – Assistant Coach
Leanne Walker – Assistant Coach
Mel Downer – Assistant Coach