WHEN Tamsin Greenway became the head coach of Scotland’s national netball team, the Scottish Thistles, she knew she had a challenge in front of her.   

Even the most prescient of people, though, could not have foreseen the obstacles the Englishwoman would be confronted with in her first year in the job. 

Greenway assumed the post in February, taking over from long-time head coach, Gail Parata, and considering her impressive record as both a player and a coach, her appointment was considered a major coup for the Scottish team. 

However, what Greenway did not expect was to be conducting squad sessions and team briefings online for most of the year, and not even meeting her players face-to-face during her first six months in the role. 

It may have been a different start to that which Greenway envisaged, but the 38-year-old remained undaunted by the lack of hands-on coaching she was able to undertake in her opening months in the job. 

Now though, Greenway is starting to really get her teeth into things. In November, she announced her first squad, which includes a number of familiar faces, as well as a sprinkling of fresh talent and she will impose the same high standards on her team that she expected of herself. 

As a player, Greenway collected a wealth of titles, including three Superleagues with Surrey Storm and as an international player, was part of the England side that won Commonwealth Games bronze in 2010 as well as World Cup bronzes in 2011 and 2015. 

Greenway then moved in to the coaching ranks and as director of netball for Wasps, won back-to-back Superleague titles. 

This record of success suggests Greenway is brimming with ambition, and she confirms her aspirations with the Scottish Thistles, who are currently ranked ninth in the world, are bold. 

“In the short-term, the target of being ranked in the top eight in the world is where the head should be but longer-term, I don’t see why there shouldn’t be the ambition to do better than that,” she says. 

“It’s sport and it’s about making changes and internationally, the dream should always be big.  

“It’s about putting a programme in place that’ll push the sport to a different level. That starts now and I’m really excited to start working with the group because I know they’re really keen to make those changes.  

“For me, it’s about changing cultures and bringing the sport on. 

“It’s never going to be easy but it’s good to have aspirations of doing something exciting rather than just sitting back and accepting where you are. 

“I think there’s so much scope to do things with this team though and while big changes will take time, we’re definitely looking forward to it.” 

Greenway may have had a taste of coaching with her role at Wasps but after a year out, which saw her feature heavily in Sky Sports’ netball coverage, the Englishwoman was desperate to get back into the thick of things once more. 

She admits the Scottish set-up was hugely attractive and is confident she can use her almost two decades at the highest level of the sport to take the Thistles to the next level. 

New Zealand, Australia and England remain a class apart from the rest in international terms – the two Oceania nations have won every World Cup and Commonwealth Games in the history of the sport bar England’s victory at the 2018 Commonwealth Games – but Greenway is confident the gap is closing, with the sport far more competitive than when she made her breakthrough on the international scene. 

“The game has really changed recently – I’ve seen how England have developed and I’ve watched teams like Jamaica, South Africa and a lot of the African and Caribbean nations develop, as well as the home nations, and that challenge is one of the things that really attracted me to international netball,” she says. 

“Change is not always possible with a new squad but with Scotland, there’s the infrastructure and the vision to implement things that are going to make the team better both on and off the court.  

“It won’t happen overnight but why shouldn’t those teams between fifth and tenth positions in the world have aspirations of trying to change things and improve the level of netball around the world? 

“Long-term, the target has to be for the whole of world netball to get closer so that there’s four or five teams competing for gold rather than just two.” 

Had 2020’s sporting calendar not been decimated by the pandemic, Greenway would already have had her first taste of international action with Scotland at the Netball Europe Open having been due to take place in Glasgow last August. 

The cancellation of that event means Greenway’s first taste of competitive action will not be until 2021, with the head coach hopeful to set-up some friendlies in January before arranging international fixtures in the summer. 

Her first major target, though, is the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham before setting her sights on qualification for the 2023 World Cup.  

And getting stuck into the major events is the thing she is really looking forward to. 

“I can’t wait to get the team on court – when it happens, it’ll have been a long time coming but we’re in the same boat as a lot of the other nations,” she says.  

“I’m really looking forward to getting things going though and showing what Scotland can do.”