The Haier Pulse’s promising showing on the court in the first six rounds of the ANZ Championship is being backed by a superb performance off the court, with attendances and memberships at an all-time high. Three of the first four home games have sold out and the average homecrowd has risen from 1,445 in 2011 to an impressive 2,341 so far in 2012. The sold-out signs for the next home fixture against the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic went up a full two weeks prior to the game, whilst memberships have risen rapidly from 144 last year to the current figure of 320.
Haier Pulse Acting Chairman, Ian Collier, is delighted with the strength of support for the team and hopes this will help to bringsome financial stability for the future. “There is no doubt that interest and support of the Haier Pulse has increased which is fantastic and very pleasing to see,” he explained. “This year we have been very conscious of involving the entire region that the Haier Pulse represents and the support for the games in Napier and Palmerston North shows that it is working. As many people know, it is very challenging to operate a sports franchise profitably, particularly on a sustainable basis. Sell-out crowds will definitely help us deliver an improved financial result this season.”
Collier firmly believes that the size and enthusiasm of the home crowds have been a major factor in the team’s performances so far this year. “There is nothing like the atmosphere you get in a full stadium and it is great to see how the team have responded to the fantastic support they are getting. Potential commercial partners will be pleased with what they are seeing and I am sure that most people will agree that the team are delivering on their promise to be stronger, better and faster.”
Head Coach Robyn Broughton agrees that the support is crucial to the team’s success. “Vocal home crowds lift the team. In my experience, it’s a huge lift and I’ve seen how crowds can win titles. It’s exciting and the girls thrive on it as they’re made to feel like stars out there. When Jols got that interception against the Mystics, the crowd just erupted. It’s wonderful to think that there’s so many people behind them.”
Broughton has also ensured that the players have kepttheir feet firmly on the ground, with the team making a large number of public appearances throughout the Haier Pulse’s region. “We have spent a good deal of time meeting the fans and coaching young players this year,” she said. “All of that makes us accessible and I think the girls have done a good job in thatrespect. From my point of view, I always make myself available and the girls should always make sure that they are available too, as best they can without it becoming overwhelming. I do think it’s nice that there are familiar faces who come down after the games and say that they really enjoyed the fact that the girls are trying so hard. It’s a boost for me as a coach as well – coaches need a bit of reinforcement, just as much as the players do.”
As Collier is keen to point out, it’s very much a two-way street, with the fans desperate to show their support and the players keen to give them the recognition they deserve for that. “There is something very special about our fans as they have been and continue to be incrediblyloyal,” he said. “We are totally committed to making the team accessible to their fans, whilst respecting the need to allow the players to concentrate on their training and performance on court. It's important to get that balanceright. The players and coaches have been fantastic to work with and the feedback from fans and our sponsors has been very positive.”
The next assignment for the Haier Pulse is a home game against the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic on Monday 14th May at TeRauparaha Arena, Porirua, and this fixture is a complete sell-out.
Supporters looking to buy tickets for the Haier Pulse v Adelaide Thunderbirds game on 21st May at the TSB Arena, Wellington, are urged to book early to avoid disappointment. Tickets are available from www.ticketek.co.nz or by ringing 0800 TICKETEK (0800 842538).
As an added bonus, all Haier Pulse fans have the chance to watch the Thunderbirds game in style, with four premium seating tickets up for grabs in an exclusive Facebook competition. To enter, simply log on to facebook.com/Haier.Pulse, like the page and give a reason why you should be the lucky winner and you and your friends could have premium seats at the TSB Arena on 21st May.
Don’t forget you can keep up to date with all the latest news from the Haier Pulse on facebook.com/Haier.Pulse or twitter @HaierPulse. Match reports and statistics are also available from www.anz-championship.com