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A three year strategy to take the Northern Mystics back to the top of the ANZ Championship

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The Mystics 2014The Northern Mystics reckon they have put the worst behind them in 2014 and are looking forward to much improved fortunes in the years ahead.

As they head for 2015 on what they believe is the upswing, but without a major sponsor yet in place, they need their fans more than ever to drive the team forward on-court and to help the cashflow off-court.

Every team in the world has its low points. The great teams understand that. They hate it and take the humility and the lessons that it brings. They also use it to light new fire in the belly and fight their way back to the top again, better and stronger than they were before.

They don’t do it alone. Their committed fans are in for the long haul with them. Loyal in the bad times and loyal in the good. That goes for The Trusts too, as fans and sponsors. We’re still in there with the Mystics and we want every fan in West Auckland to do the same.

After hitting rock bottom in 2013 the Northern Mystics, like all top teams that fall on bad times, have picked themselves up and mapped out a three year strategy to take them back to the top.

The year just completed was better than the year before even after the confidence rocking demolitions by the Vixens and the Magic in the first two rounds this year.

For a while it felt like the nightmare of 2013 had rolled on into this year and really rocked the team’s confidence and so it took courage and hard work to come back from a shocker of a start to the season.

Already the results are showing. “Marked out of ten, I’d say five out of ten for results but eight for effort” says CEO, Julie Paterson.

At this stage, one year into a three year strategy, the effort is the important thing. With sustained hard work and effort, the results will follow. As a famous golfer once said; “the harder I practice, the luckier I get.”

In high performance sport these days, there are so many things that need to be taken into account and brought into line, that it was always going to take two years and possibly three, to remake the Mystics into a championship contender.

The team has stuck with its high energy, and inevitably high risk, style. Other teams go for being impenetrable on defence; the Mystics are fast, creative and unpredictable. It’s a style where everyone has to be instinctively aware of what the other players are going to do next and put themselves in place to do their bit to take the play forward.

The trick, says Julie, is to be able to do this with precision. Instinctive, creative plays are not the same as “Hail Mary” plays. They are built on highly skilled individuals learning how to work to each other’s strengths and instincts. That takes relentless practice and high pressure game experience.

Inevitably, success also depends on having a settled squad and culture. But management still has to keep its eyes on the future and be nurturing youngsters to step in and gradually ease their way into being first line players by the time the current “guns” are ready to hang up their bibs.

Nurturing youth is almost three dimensional thinking. The coaching and other staff have to be aware of where the younger players are in their development, understand their personalities and what motivates them and then provide programmes to bring them through, all the while bearing in mind where they will fit in, and how to give them the game time that will give them confidence and the team confidence in them.

How to manage the senior squad to ensure that it reaches peak as a settled squad with depth and yet have the courage to make room for the younger talent, is equally complex. Older players have a use-by date of which, in many cases, nobody is aware. Some players may have an eye on a date in the future, others will simply know that date when it arrives.

At this stage, Julie is not aware of any potential retirements but when they come, as inevitably they must sooner or later, the Mystics are looking to keeping faith with the present squad and its youth talent, rather than imports, to take the team into the future.

But the team is hoping the fans will step up too. So come on West Auckland, when the memberships go on sale soon, get in there and “show the Mystics your love.”