I’m really excited to be finalising the back cover of my upcoming book this weekend – it is due to be published in November. I’m extremely pleased with the front cover – designed by the excellent Auckland-based graphic artist and designer Graham O’Neill of Graham O’Neill Design Solutions – thanks Graham for your patience and creativity.
The overarching theme is the need to remind ourselves of our shared humanity and the fragile social contract that binds us all together. One topic that resurfaces throughout the book is the way sport plays such an important role in Aotearora New Zealand’s psyche and the way our elite teams excel in so many ways, not just on but off the field or court.
One example I hoped to include in the book, but was told by my publisher, unfortunately I was too late, is about our superb national netball team, the Silver Ferns. Kiwis will fondly recall that they won the netball World Cup in 2019, beating their arch-rivals Australia. The team’s coach, Dame Noeline Taurua is known for being a hard taskmaster and engendering a culture of grit and tenaciousness. She demands absolute fitness, because it is one of the building blocks of excellence.
She was asked in an interview for Giltrap Group’s 66 Magazine, a car magazine and not the place you would expect to see an interview with someone like Dame Noeline, what she puts her success down to. Surprisingly, her answer was honesty, determination and love. While honesty and determination make sense, it is unusual to hear a high-performance coach talk of “love” in a sporting context. However, in Taurua’s book, love is important, but comes in two forms: there is love and then there’s tough love and to succeed, a coach has to show both.
In an interview by Janetta MacKay in Viva Magazine, https://www.viva.co.nz/article/culture-travel/coach-noeline-taurua-taskmaster-silver-ferns/ Dame Noeline was asked to sum up her coaching philosophy. Her answer: it “has always been about people working with people. Finding their strengths, enhancing their strengths or giving them an environment where they can express themselves and moulding that together. At the end we’ve got to perform, on and off the court,….” In broad conceptual terms it sounds very similar to the type of general wellbeing I talk about in my book – where people work to their strengths, they do so together, but importantly they expect, if not demand, and others around them perform, not just for themselves but each other. Ultimately, the wider team, group or society benefits.
While unfortunately Dame Noeline’s wisdom won’t find its way into the pages of this book, the ethos’s of some of our other leading sporting and cultural lights will.