18 September 2019

England netballers go full-time

July 11, 2016

England netballers go full-time

In June this year history was made for England Netball when they began their first ever full-time training programme at Loughborough University.


Former England player and current England Netball Head Coach Tracey Neville described the accomplishment as a dream come true. She said: ‘It’s really exciting for a little girl to think “actually I can be a full-time netballer.”’ Tracey conceded however that now is the beginning of a tough journey for England on the road to the Netball World Cup in Liverpool 2019, adding ‘[the contracts] are more like a marriage, you’ve made that commitment and there is no going back and we do truly believe that this is the right model to create the best opportunity for 2019.’

The athletes, who are now located in Loughborough five days a week, have signed full-time player agreements ahead of their Summer Training Camp in preparation for the inaugural Quad Series to be hosted in Australia and New Zealand in August. The players have had to adjust quickly to the transition from part-time to full-time players, with GA and Manchester Thunder player Eleanor Cardwell stating: ‘It was tough when we first came in because obviously you have to get your body to adjust.’ However it appears that in four short weeks the players have already managed to reap rewards from the programme on an individual level. When asked about which players she’s seen progress the most, Tracey mentioned Sasha Corbin who is rehabbing from an ACL injury: ‘Sasha Corbin has had access to sport science services and a performance coach, day in, day out, and she has progressed quickly in respect to where you would expect someone rehabbing an ACL to be.’

Sasha Corbin, netball

Sasha Corbin training at Loughborough

It would seem that the full-time programme has arrived at the perfect moment for England Netball after their spectacular win at this year’s Netball Europe Open Championships in Newcastle. Considering the immense talent of these young players, the full-time programme allows the athletes to make stronger relationships with their potential 2019 teammates. When asked what her favourite aspect of the programme was, Eleanor said: ‘getting to know the girls and building new friendships.’

Undoubtedly this new programme exposes the athletes to facilities that weren’t previously available. Tracey added: ‘The facilities that are on offer for these athletes are absolutely world class and [the players] will be provided with the optimum training environment in which to succeed. Our objective is to win a gold medal in 2019 and as a performance team, making athletes full-time is the best way to give us the best opportunity.’

Tracey also thanked the team’s sponsors Vitality and BLK, as well as the media and Sky Sports for supporting the team and helping to generate the finances that made full-time netball a reality.

What’s next for England Netball? Some players, such as Jo Harten and Serena Guthrie, are currently participating in the 2016 ANZ Championships (the Australian and New Zealand domestic league) and are discussing linking up with the camp later this summer. For those players currently outside of the full-time agreement, there will be the opportunity for screening and trials at which players will be considered for selection ahead of the Quad Series. Tracey explained: ‘one of our goals is that we never stop anyone from having the opportunity to play for England.’

England are set to play not only Australia and New Zealand this summer, but also Jamaica later in the year when fans will be able to witness the results of the players’ new training regime. When asked how training was going, Eleanor explained: ‘it’s intense, you have your technical training, your weights and your running, it’s a good mix of everything.’ But what separates England from Australia and New Zealand (number one and two in the world respectively)? Tracey says: ‘at the moment I don’t think in England we are technically [as] good. So I think one of the major things for me is getting the girls to be technically superior. And that is a word I keep using to them, you need to be technically superior or equal to your opposition.’

Netball fans are certainly in for an exciting season this year with the players training to beat current world champions Australia. We wish the team the best of luck at the Quad Series this summer and look forward to seeing them show off their hard work on the court.

More information via England Netball

Roisin Campbell, Sportsister

The Women’s Sports Magazine

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