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Serena Guthrie calls for netball to go professional

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JERSEY and England netballer Serena Guthrie has called for the sport to become professional and for a permanent home for netball in the Island, following her victory with the England netball team on Saturday.

Serena Guthrie (right) Picture: NIGEL FRENCH/PA WIRE. (23669186)

As captain of the England Roses, Ms Guthrie led the national team to victory over world champions Australia at the Copper Box Arena in East London this weekend.

Following the match, which saw the Roses just miss out on a tournament title at the 2019 Quad Series, Ms Guthrie spoke to the JEP about the need for netball to become a professional sport if it is to continue to evolve, both at a national level and in Jersey.

‘Netball needs to take those next steps as a sport, now that we have the national team really pushing and competing on the world stage,’ she said. ‘If we want to have sustained success, the only way to get that is by having the best competition we can possibly have, which means we need to go professional, or at least semi-professional and start making that move.

‘We need better facilities, better training hours and proper financial contracts that can support athletes.’

She added that a permanent home in Jersey for Team Jets, the Island’s netball team, is what the sport ‘deserves’.

‘The one thing that has eluded Jersey netball for a long time is that, unfortunately, there is no home for netball,’ she said. ‘You look at Jersey rugby, football and cricket, and these teams all have their own home, a place where they can come and train any time they like. And netball in Jersey is desperate for that.

‘We have some great netballers on the Island and they deserve that – they deserve to have that facility. If you look at a lot of the other sports on the Island, a lot of their success is due to that kind of access.

‘Jersey netball has been very fortunate to have financial support with sponsors getting on board but it would be great to have a long-term, sustainable partner for Team Jets. You have to have that stable source of income and also a stable facility, so that things can be put in place properly and help develop the sport in the Island.’

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Jersey Sport chief executive Catriona McAllister agreed that a new permanent home for netball was ‘vital’ to the future of netball in Jersey. ‘Netball is one of our biggest sports locally, particularly when it comes to female participation, and therefore it is vital that a new permanent home is found,’ she said. ‘Jersey Sport is already working with netball officials to offer support and guidance about the best way forward.

‘It is important to consider, though, that finding a solution for netball sits as part of a much wider discussion around Islandwide sports facilities, and we can’t just consider the one sport in isolation.

‘If we want to inspire an active Island then we need fit-for-purpose facilities that Islanders are excited to play in, creating the right atmosphere for sports to grow so the Serena Guthries of the next generation can come through and thrive.’

Sam Le

By Sam Le
Journalist

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