SEVERN Stars have named New Zealander Melissa Bessell as the Vitality Netball Superleague franchise’s new head coach.
Bessell will start her new role in September, leading the University of Worcester and University of Gloucestershire co-owned team for the first time at the British Fast5 All-Stars Championships in October. She takes over from Sam Bird, who moved on at the end of last season.
The news comes as New Zealand lifted the World Cup trophy for the fifth time at the end of a thrilling 10 days of netball in Liverpool.
Bessell, whose coaching career spans more than 30 years, said Stars fans could expect a ‘dynamic, disciplined and fit’ side.
“I am hyper-excited to be taking on this role. Stars have done a fantastic job in the Vitality Superleague since their inception and I am thrilled to be working with them,” she said.
“I’ve been out of the league in a head coaching role for a few years now and the time was right. Working with a young, exciting franchise, while having the support of the University of Worcester and the University of Gloucestershire, was a no-brainer.”
Bessell represented the New Zealand Maoris and began her coaching career working her way up through the age groups of the national side in New Zealand, eventually coaching the New Zealand Maori team.
She went on to coach the Fiji national side for two years, then coached the Wales national team for four years before she took the helm at Celtic Dragons in the Vitality Superleague. The Dragons reached their first-ever Grand Final with her in 2013.
“I am looking forward to walking out at the first home game with the new team and the Stars supporters. There is nothing better than the home fans’ support,” Bessell added
Severn Stars’ co-director of netball, Anita Navin, said: “Melissa’s ability to develop individual players into a successful team has been confirmed on many occasions at performance level.
“I am confident she will bring a game style fitting to take Severn Stars to the next level in the quest to be challenging the top-four teams.
“Melissa also has a passion to develop local potential and, with interaction and engagement in the pathway, we will no doubt see a more competitive performance all round.”