UK coaches impressed by local netball

‘THE enthusiasm for, and level of, netball in Jersey is overwhelming’, according to four netball coaches who have played the sport at the very top level in the UK.

Netball Development Officer Lauren Mills said bringing coaches over was essential to raising the standard of play Picture: ROB CURRIE (31502281)
Netball Development Officer Lauren Mills said bringing coaches over was essential to raising the standard of play Picture: ROB CURRIE (31502281)

The women, who run Net U, a company they set up to promote the sport nationally are in the Island for a week running a series of training camps and masterclasses. All four have played in netball’s superleague, the sport’s equivalent of football’s premier league.

Lucy Harris, a former centre for leading UK team Severn Stars, admitted to being ‘so impressed by the intensity everyone has brought to the sessions’. Adding, ‘Everyone has been so switched on’.

The sessions, which are running from 9am till 3pm for years 5 to 13 at Oakfield have attracted lots of young eager players. There is also going to be a special session for the Jets – the Island’s senior team – at Les Ormes tomorrow night [Thursday].

Harris’s sister, Molly, another of Net U’s four coaches currently in the Island, was keen to stress the sessions were not just about improving skills. ‘It is equally important to us to get across the message of how valuable sleep and nutrition are.’

The group have also been passing on tips on how to avoid injuries and aid recovery.

The women set up Net U just before ‘lockdown’ originally with the idea of promoting netball clothing. That had to be put on hold. Instead, they found themselves giving coaching sessions and one-to-one advice to players over the internet. Now, with the easing of restrictions, they were able to come to the Island. Nationally, spurred on in part by the success of the England women’s team, the sport is on a high. It is following a similar trend locally.

Lauren Mills, Jersey Netball’s Development Officer, said bringing coaches over was essential to raising the standard of play. ‘Netball’, she noted ‘is the number one women’s sport in the island. There are more than 700 people aged six to 80 who play. It caters for people of all ages and abilities.

‘But,’ she says, ‘it does not get the recognition it deserves. Jersey player Serena Guthrie captains the England side. No local person has ever held a similar position in the football or rugby world. And yet those sports seem to get so much more support locally’.

Much was recently made of the British Lions rugby squad holding a training camp in the Island, but, despite their success and strong Jersey links, a similar plan by England’s ladies’ netball team received far less publicity. Although Covid restrictions meant it did not happen, Mills is confident the team will come to Jersey ahead of Birmingham’s Commonwealth Games being held in July next year and be yet another boost to the sport locally.

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