Tall Fern Mary Goulding’s accident is a stark reminder for her team mates that basketball is not the important thing.
Goulding was involved in a car accident in Christchurch on 20 May which left the 26-year-old in intensive care just days after she had been in a Tall Ferns camp in Auckland.
Coach Guy Molloy says the shocking news of Goulding’s accident has “rocked” her team mates and coaches.
“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.”
The Tall Ferns will come together again this weekend in a preparation camp for five games against a trio of basketball powerhouses in Europe followed by the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup in Sydney.
A camp Goulding was meant to be at.
“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 Molloy it has been a difficult battle to balance his emotions around Goulding with the need to mentally and physically prepare his squad for the important run of games overseas.
“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.”
Molloy say 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.”
Molloy has named a 12-strong squad for Europe, taken from the wider depth chart of Tall Ferns players.
During the two week tour the New Zealanders will face Serbia, Turkey and Poland national teams over a five-game series of international friendlies.
“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.”
“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.”
Beyond Europe, the Women’s Asia Cup then tips off in Sydney on 26 June with the Tall Ferns taking on Korea, China and Lebanon across three games of group play.
Tall Ferns squad for Europe: Stella Beck, Tayla Dalton, Penina Davidson, Kendall Heremaia, Grace Hunter, Ash Kelman-Poto, Charlisse Leger-Walker, Krystal Leger-Walker, Tera Reed, Ash Taia, Lilly Taulelei and Ritorya Tamilo.
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