She adds that culture will play a big part of the national netball team programme.
Rarotonga netballers keen to don the national bib are encouraged to get along to the national trials this evening at 6pm at the Telecom Sports Arena in Nikao.
The accomplished netball administrator and coach arrived on the island at the weekend and she was able to check out some of the local netball action at the first round of games on Saturday.
Atkinson watched potential national netters in action and spoke to some of the club coaches.
She says liaising regularly with local coaches will be a key to building the national side.
“I want to liaise with them regularly as it will be a joint effort in keeping any selected players on task and supported when I am back in New Zealand.
“There is no better honour than representing your country and culture will play a big part in our team programme.
“You only need to look at successful teams like the New Zealand Breakers basketball team, and the All Blacks to name a couple, to see what makes them special.
“What does the player look like away from the team environment?
“What they eat, drink, how they train, are just some of the aspects they will need to consider,” says Atkinson.
She also believes that whanau (family) play an important role.
“Not to hound them about what they are doing or not doing, but to just be there.
“We, the players and team management, will set those standards together and ensure they meet the standards Netball Cook Islands expect.
“We want to play the best netball but we need to be a ‘family’ also.”
She says just as in family disagreements, the key will be how the issues are handled and an outcome that suits all is agreed on.
Family disputes and solving them is something Atkinson says she knows a lot about.
“I am one of 10 children, six girls and four boys. Trust me, there's a pecking order and I am not at the top.
“But I have learnt to observe, listen and contribute appropriately,” says Atkinson.
Tonight, national netball hopefuls will have the opportunity to showcase their netball skills at the Rarotonga trials at the TSA in Nikao while New Zealand-based players have an opportunity to trial out in a couple of weeks.
“I can then compare players and decide on the best fit based on the skills and versatility of the players,” says Atkinson.
“Time is of the essence so once the team is finalised I will come up with a game plan based on our strengths.
“I have had success with this format but the players need to buy into it as well.”
All players interested in trialling for the national team, who will prepare for the Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea in June, are asked to be at the TSA for 6pm registrations.
Atkinson coached the Waikato under 19 team that won the New Zealand age group champs in 2012, was a NZ under 21 trial coach in 2013 and coached the Bay of Plenty National Provincial Champs team in 2014.
She has had success with top secondary school and club teams, including ANZ franchise players.