September 4, 2001

Swiss experience sets Flannery up for new summer

Paula Flannery, CLEAR White Fern, could be excused for taking a little time to come back to Earth.

She's just returned from a winter coaching position 1700m up in the Swiss mountains at an exclusive Swiss boarding and finishing school, Lyceum Alpinum, near St Moritz in the Engandine Valley, for children from afar afield as Brazil and Russia.

It's three weeks since she returned to her Christchurch base and only now is she starting to unwind from an opportunity she never expected to get.

A member of the CricInfo Women's World Cup-winning White Ferns, Flannery, 27, was asked in February if she would be available to go to the school by White Ferns coach Mike Shrimpton.

The job came about because the head of sport at the exclusive co-educational school is former Central Districts player Greg Hart, who used to be coached by Shrimpton.

But cricket in a Swiss school catering for the children of Europe's wealthy?

Apparently, cricket has been a tradition at the school for 50 years and Flannery was one of three coaches. With a background in teaching children with disabilities, she found her previous experiences were a great help in getting children who had never been exposed to cricket to handle the intricacies of batting and bowling.

The accent was on studies at the school and the only time available for sport was from 4.30-6pm so the only children involved in her coaching were the boarders.

Flannery played the odd game with a boys' team, including a tournament in Italy. But the big event on her programme was a Cricketfest organised by her school which involved several teams in 32-over matches.

The school's top team also has an annual match against the Old Boys' side which is traditionally very competitive. And this year the school side won the match.

"It was a very enjoyable experience and I got to met a few people I would never have met otherwise," Flannery said of her northern hemisphere summer.

"Some of the kids I was coaching have their own companies. It was a lot different to anything I have experienced before."

Forty-five different countries were represented on the school roll.

As for her own cricket, Flannery did a lot of work on her physical training.

"I also had a lot of time to sit down and think about everything, and I've never really had that time before.

"It also gave me a chance to charge my batteries for the next season," she said.

Her first date to watch out for is October 1 when the New Zealand team to tour India in November will be named.

But the ultimate measure of how she enjoyed her Swiss experience came when asked if she would do it again, and the affirmative answer said it all.