Team Jets look to a two-flight plan

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TEAM JETS will spend the next 12 months building towards a two-pronged attack on Netball South West’s regional league ladder.

The Island club sent a development squad to a lower-tier qualification tournament on Saturday, with the view to securing a full schedule of fixtures in SW Division III North for 2022/23, alongside the seniors’ SW Division I commitments. Their journey failed to bear fruit but head coach Linda Andrews believes a full year of focus could pay dividends when they bid for a spot for 2023/24.

Jets decided to enter this year’s qualifier at late notice, following the cancellation of the inter-insulars against Guernsey.

The under-19s suffered four defeats at the University of Gloucestershire, to Team Bath C [20-15], Bath Cougars [19-12], Wimborne Aquarians [19-17] and Challengers [19-15], but a 15-15 draw with TJ Saracens and a 15-13 victory over Chippenham brought hope as the club looks to keep the gateway open.

‘Now we’ve seen exactly how it works and what the standard is, we know what we need to do next year,’ Andrews explained. ‘It will be part of our plan and it gives the girls even more reason to get into the squad. They won’t just be coming to training as a training partner; they’ll be there to prepare for the competition.

‘When Guernsey dropped out of the inter-insular we needed to give the girls something, because they’d been training all season without a game. We’ve been looking at ways to get a stepping stone in. At the minute they go from U16s and then there’s nothing until they get to senior Jets, so we were looking for something else for them. As a development squad, they need an opportunity to compete.’

Andrews added that off-court matters worked in their favour this season, following multiple hiccups in recent years with venue uncertainty and funding cuts.

‘This season we were lucky enough to get enough money in the pot from our sponsorship with Santander, and we’ve been fortunate with flight costs, as Blue Islands have given us a flat rate,’ she said. ‘That’s been so helpful to us and we had enough money in the pot to go to this competition for the first time.

‘All in all the girls did really well. They weren’t blown out of the water and it was good for them. They really competed and will have learned so much from it.’

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