EXPERIENCED umpire Sara Byrne had the best view of Hampden league netball for the past six seasons.
She will call on that knowledge when she leads Hamilton Kangaroos’ A grade side in 2014.
Most of the Kangaroos’ netballers have Western Border or Mininera league links and shared their Hampden league debuts with the newly-formed club in 2013.
It was a tough initiation for the Nicole Smyth-led team, which failed to win a game and collected the wooden spoon.
Byrne, 45, was inspired to coach again because she wanted to “build Hamilton to become a very strong netball club”.
“I felt Hamilton needed some help and being the town I come from, I wanted it to succeed,” she said.
“It was a big decision because I love netball umpiring, so it was a major decision for me to step away from that for a season.
“But sometimes you need a challenge.”
The three-time Hampden league umpire of the year said the Kangaroos — the result of Hamilton Imperials’ and Hamilton Magpies’ merger — learnt valuable lessons last season.
Byrne said she had indepth knowledge of Hampden league teams, players and game styles, having watched them from the boundary for the past six years.
“I have always known how strong the league is and I think Hamilton didn’t quite know enough about how tough it was,” she said.
“Now they’ve had a first-year taste, they know what they have to put in to achieve.
“My first challenge is to recruit good players back into the club.
“I’ll be happy when we get our first win and take it from there.”
Byrne, a born-and-bred Hamilton local, enjoyed a 21-year playing career.
She coached most Magpies’ grades when they played in the Western Border league, including three years as A grade mentor, and won four straight flags as A reserve playing coach.
Byrne retired at the end of the 2007 season after winning a B grade premiership and stepped straight into umpiring.
Hamilton Kangaroos are yet to confirm a pre-season start date for their A grade netballers but Byrne hopes the team is on the track by the end of November.