By BIANCA CHATFIELD, Captain of the Melbourne Vixens netball team.
Australia’s cricketers are in detention this week after not completing their homework on time. Like anyone who has ever had their dog eat their homework, they have been punished. In this case, four high profile Australian athletes have been stripped of their greatest privilege; the opportunity to play cricket for their country.
Harsh? Yes. But fair? Public opinions widely differ.
I’m going to ignore the hysteria around the cricketers right now and just talk about what I know, from my sport, netball.
When you are selected to play for an elite team, there of course are expectations placed upon you, like there are in any job.
On the outside you see athletes do their thing, which is generally something they have trained for and been preparing for their entire lives.
They train hard, eat well, say the right things to the media, acknowledge the fans, promote the sponsors, look the part and hopefully after all of this, they perform the job that’s expected of them.
What you don’t see is what happens behind the scenes. The expectations and commitments you automatically sign up for when you are selected. It’s just any team, this is playing for your country. Which is kind of a big deal.
We are generally on tour with the Diamonds for two to three weeks at a time. No matter where we are in the world our lives are to a schedule. We might as well be back at school, waiting for the bell times. You’re sent a pack list of what to bring, then every day you are told exactly what you have to do, what time you have to be there, when to eat, what to wear etc. etc.
There are a number of meetings too, about everything and anything to do with the team. Meetings with coaches, meetings on team values and behaviours, video sessions, physio and massage appointments, mobile-free times, recovery sessions, along with times you can do whatever you want as long as you are around for the next scheduled appointment.
And yes there is homework. Of course there should be. It’s our job to invest time into all aspects of the team. Success doesn’t happen by chance, it comes about when every member is investing everything they have into the team and its performance.
Before matches we complete a goal sheet that needs to be handed in at the team meeting before the game.
Do people forget? Sometimes. Is this acceptable? No!
I know our sport isn’t publicly scrutinised like our male friends but it’s nothing new for us to be dealing with little team issues like this. People running late to meetings, wearing the wrong uniform, not being organized, they might seem petty from the outside but when you commit to the values and behaviours of the team, then you commit to ticking every box that is required of you.
Nothing compares to playing for your country, no one deserves the right to play, you have to earn it.
Simple in my eyes.
Bianca Chatfield is the current captain of the Melbourne Vixens and has been representing the Australia Diamonds since 2001. You can find her on Twitter here.
Do you think Australia’s cricketers should be punished for not doing their homework?