Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Reflections of Touch World Cup 2007!

So many people have asked How Leana and the NZ team got on in results and performance at the world cup in South Africa. Well here it is!! If you missed the first interview click on the title Awesome Leana which is on the right side and you will get the first part of the interview!

Leana Hoani Feb 2007- Reflections
NZ Woman’s touch Captain
World Cup South Africa 2007 Silver Medalist.

EHP: Welcome back Leana after your world cup in South Africa, tell the readers the result of the NZ woman’s team?
We played 10 games in total. A round robin, quarter final, semi final then final.
Beat Singapore 18-0
Beat England 9-0
Beat Wales 16-0
Beat South Africa 15-0
Lost Australia 3-6
Beat Scotland 20-1
Beat Japan 15-3
(quarterfinal) Beat Wales 22-0
(semifinal) Beat England 11-0
(final)Lost Australia 3-9

EHP: Okay now they know the result let’s talk about the journey. Reflecting back over the 6wks prior to world cup and now 4wks later, how did you feel you performed, what did you notice about your performances on the world stage compared to other performances for NZ?
This is very hard to explain but to get to the point, although I was totally gutted and disappointed at the end of our final, I was very proud of the work I had done beforehand in my training and the changes I made to my personal life. I did take my time to get into full stride at the start of the tournament, however as explained to Spida I felt due to the easy nature of those early games, I was only really doing what was required at the time and conserving energy for the tougher games.

This was the first time I had been involved in a New Zealand team and tournament where I had no injuries and no pains in my knee. I was recovering quicker than most (which in the conditions over there, was pretty good). I was much calmer and was making better decisions on the field because I was fitter and could still think fast even in the 40th minute. I have always been an intense person on the field and demanding at times, which by some of the younger players is quite intimidating. However since being with Spida I have found other more calmer ways of talking and encouraging my teammates.

Even now that I am back from the tournament, my knee is still strong and I’m off to the Nationals in a week.

EHP: Describe playing in the South African heat, you told me it was 42degres!
Never having been in that sort of heat before, let alone playing in it, was an experience. The heat affected not only your body, but your mind as well. There would be times where you thought you just couldn’t escape it. On the day of the final, yes it was a recorded 42 degrees. Next time I think we could have been smarter (like the aussies) they actually had cooling vests under their tops and in their subbox…..We had good old towels soaked in cold water….he he

EHP: How did your body and mind hold up in such extreme conditions? So the treadmill sessions (among other “challenging” protocols) were worth it :-)
I considered myself the fittest I had ever been going into the world cup thanks to those bloody treadmill sessions. Those treadmill intervals was what kept popping into my mind during the hard times in a game where I felt physically drained. I told Spida it was like running hard out on a treadmill while in a sauna. It was extreme!

But I also kept thinking ‘man I have done a lot of work to get to where I am, and I know others in the team hadn’t, so how the hell were they feeling’?. I think in the end that is what pushed me to keep going in the games, because I knew I was one of the fittest out there and I needed to step up when others obviously couldn’t.

EHP: Now that you have come out the other end and had time to reflect, what has been some of the memories you have from such a great experience with the whole world cup? Again apart from the finals result, it was the best tour I had ever been a part of. The team was extremely young with an age range of 16 to 26, and I have nothing but great memories of all of them.

We got to be a part of a World Cup and the whole atmosphere that entails, from meeting different people from different nations, to joining in on impromptu songs from the island teams and welsh…

We visited Table mountain which our whole team found to be a very spiritual place. I will never forget the night we got presented our playing gear. It was very emotional and special, and something not everyone gets the chance to experience.

I of course won’t forget those times I was bent over with my head in the rubbish bin after those treadmill sessions, funny now but definitely not at the time…he he.

It was something I actually had been working towards for 4 years and had trained specifically for, for the last year. So that was an experience in itself.

EHP: You stayed on after the world cup what was some of the highlights/experiences you had post world cup for your holiday?
So grateful that I could participate at the world cup especially because it was held in Stellenbosch, South Africa. My husband and I took the opportunity to stay longer after the tournament and visited some amazing places.

We traveled to Johannesburg and the Kruger National Park where we camped for 3 days and took part in a safari. What an awesome experience, to be that close to those animals in their natural environment. Meet some amazing people along the way from different countries. We got to try some of the game for dinner one night. ‘Impala’ which is like a springbok type deer.

We also traveled to Zambia where we visited Mukuni village. This was by far the highlight of my trip. Mukuni, was a small tribal village with mud huts and the very bare of necessities. One water tap for 120 people, mud huts, and poverty was what meet us.

I was very teary while I was there as I got to see first hand everything that you see on television but don’t think applies to you so don’t always notice. These children were so poor that I felt so bad carrying around my bottle of water because it’s so precious to them.

We ended up giving the kids our bottle; they guzzled the water then filled it up with sand and started kicking it around like a soccer ball. That one day spent with those kids changed something in me, and how I want to approach certain areas in my life.

Anyway they appreciated the time we spent with them and we traded a few items we had, with some crafts they had made.

We got to visit the Victoria falls and cruise the Zambezi river. We also crossed the border and went into Zimbabwe to participate in a lion encounter. For 2 hours we got to walk and play with 16month old cubs (although they looked as big as adult lions).

We then flew back to JoBurg and on to Singapore for a few days of being in the city. Visted Sentosa island and did some shopping before coming home.

Really it was great to get away with my husband and devote time to him and be alone together for a change. He had allowed me to give everything to my training, especially my time, and it was a chance for us both to refocus now on new goals and dreams for the year ahead.

EHP: Thanks Leana for taking the time to give the readers an insight into the mind of someone representing NZ in a sport that you DON’T get paid to do!! Any last thoughts you would like to share….

I really just want people to know that YES I was upset after the loss (and shed a few tears) but I also felt satisfaction and pride at the way I performed and the commitment and drive I showed towards my training. I love playing Touch, it is my passion and I didn’t think that I could go on after this world cup, however I’ve recharged myself and have set new goals for the coming years of continuing to play for my country.

Spida has definitely made a difference to my beliefs around training and nutrition, but also helped with my personal development outside of my sport. From now on I will be going straight to him for whatever I need in terms of fitness so that I continue to train smarter and more efficiently.

Thanks Spida, and we will keep in TOUCH….

Enjoy the nationals in 2wks time and I’m sure you will do your best to make it 3 MVP’s in 3yrs!