Netball World Series • Christchurch, New Zealand 2024

With Ōtautahi Christchurch absolutely humming with anticipation for this weekend’s world series, we speak to FAST5 veteran Whitney Souness about her love for netball’s weekend of fun, frivolity and fantastic on-court action!

Kia ora Whitney! So you’re about to take the court for FAST5 – is it a format you’re a fan of?

Whitney: I love FAST5! Obviously with this form of the game there’s only one midcourter – so there’s a lot of running for me! And there’s the fact the shooters can shoot from anywhere in the goal third, and the power plays where you get double points and you can get ahead in the game to get ahead and push the points, which I’ve always loved. It’s so interesting to see how the different teams use the power play.

The other cool thing is that you use your subs pretty quickly too, so you’re really giving it your all for the few minutes you’re out on the court – the intensity is amazing because you’re able to give it so much. I’m honestly so looking forward to it! I had so much fun last time and I know that this group will have a lot of fun. And I’m sure we’ll win it too.

We love the confidence! And the strategy must be so different from what you’re used to as well.   

Oh it’s so different! Of course there’s a lot of components from netball that are relevant in FAST5, but FAST5 is so fun. You to run, feed the ball and then defend from everywhere, especially getting involved with defending shots as mid courters – normally centres wouldn’t really do that!

What do you tell the players coming in who haven’t played FAST5 before? 

I think this team will be awesome at FAST5. They’re very fast, they’re good at reading the play really fast – you don’t have a lot of time to think with the speed that it is played, so you have to be on your toes all the time and be prepared to go for ball. The midcourters have the role of linking it all together, the defence has to be always on, and the shooters have to be fearless and shoot from anywhere. I think the point is to just go out there, go hard and enjoy it.

Do you think it’s a little bit more instinctual? 

Yeah, 100%. Normally you have your set plays and centre passes and all that, but this time there’s such less players on the court, so you just have to run at the ball and pass to who is in front of you. Once you start overthinking it, there’s no time to try and re-think!

Is it quite liberating to play then, if you’re being a little more reactive to what’s in front of you? 

Yeah, I think it gives some freedom. You have more space to do what you want to do and allows people to just play the game and have some fun with it. It’s a cool vibe on the court and off it too, so we feed off that as well.

The crowds at FAST5 are so much fun, and it really does feel like a festival! 

The crowd gets so into it, it’s awesome! We know they’re there to watch some good netball as well – netball that’s fast and a bit different to what they’re used to and what they see all the time, so we definitely feel the crowd’s support. The atmosphere is amazing and it’s what Fast5 is all about – everyone having a bunch of fun, with some great netball!

It shows off different skills, as well as players who haven’t had an opportunity to play too much this year. It gives them the chance to have some exposure and play against some international sides, too.

Anything else we can look forward to?

Oh the dancing? [Laughs] Yup, we’ll be working on that, it’s always fun to embarrass ourselves with that, so that’ll be good. We don’t want to get carried away but hopefully it looks good… but the netball looks better. I guess we can always become dancers later!