This coach plans to ensure the netball season from hell ends sweetly and Swiftly

For any mother, the concept of hotel quarantine with children is daunting. Try two kids plus an entire Super Netball team.

Ahead of the NSW Swifts’ major semi-final, coach Briony Akle has spoken about how Super Netball’s COVID-19 tour of Australia to keep the season alive caused her family to be physically divided.

The Swifts and Giants were moved from Sydney to Queensland to Melbourne to Adelaide and then back to Queensland, all in less than a month.

Swifts coach Briony Akle holds court with her players in a season of turmoil like no other.Credit:Getty

The huge tour came after the Sydney outbreak, with COVID-19 continuing to follow the competition wherever it went.

Only two of her four sons travelled with Akle to Adelaide, forcing her to leave her husband and other kids behind.

“It was not easy and to be honest I think [the team] supported me just as much as I have been supporting them,” she said.

“It’s been a juggle, I’m not going to lie. It’s been really difficult, but the support of the Swifts has gotten me through.”

As the team prepared to make their final move from Adelaide to Brisbane – where the competition has since remained – matters became even worse when Akle and the team physio were identified as close contacts from a possibly infected venue in Melbourne.

The team flew to Brisbane without Akle, and her kids flew back to their father.

Eventually, she was cleared and made her way to Brisbane, where the Swifts have managed to thrive ever since.

For Akle, her concern is now ensuring the whirlwind will be all worth it.

The Swifts face up on Saturday against their local rival Giants, who are currently sitting top of the ladder. The second-placed team is awarded a second chance if they lose, meaning a NSW outfit will definitely be in the finals.

Despite the fact it might be the Giants instead of them, Akle said both the NSW teams deserve to be in the finals given what they had to endure this year.

“I’ve tried to stay positive. Let’s get the job done and make all the sacrifices worth it,” she said.

Akle said relationships within the group have only been solidified through the experience, with the players bringing comfort to the staff and vice versa.

“One of the things that has probably worked in our favour is that the girls looked for the adventure side of it, rather than just the negative,” she said.

“They were always the ones if we called a team meeting, laughing, going: ‘Right, so which state are we off to today?’

“They’ve just rolled with the punches. They’re just great humans, and a great team to be able to be around in times that are uncertain.”

The Swifts come up against the Giants on Saturday at 1pm (AEST).

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