Netball: If ‘This Girl Can’ when it comes to netball then you can too – Lauren Potter

Anna Carter
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A couple of weeks ago, I sat down to watch Corrie as a well-deserved revision break.

I couldn’t tell you what I’d been revising that day nor could I say what excitement took place on the cobbles but what I do remember is my first viewing of the ‘This Girl Can’ advert.

‘This Girl Can’ is a national promotional campaign launched by Sports England to challenge women to forget their fear of judgement and to get exercising.

Netball featured heavily in the advert and rightly so, as it is the leading female sport in the country. It’s true that netball is often far from glamorous and those who have ever watched netball will have seen plenty of bright red faces, an abundance of unattractive grimaces and clinging sweaty dresses.

This describes me after a hard-fought match and more often than not the colour of my face blends into the fluorescent pink colour of my dress.

Yet, when I look at photos or video footage of myself playing netball all I see is someone who is working really hard for the team she loves in a sport she’s passionate about.

Fortunately, I am not alone and the number of women playing sport in England is rising every day; not put off by ‘the look’, the training or the commitment. Additionally, the profiles of the top female athletes are becoming an increasing focus for the media.

In fact, who five years ago, would have thought that a netballer would be writing for the YEP? My media exposure has increased over the last couple of years – I’ve been on TV and radio and in the papers but I’m sure that many of you will not have heard of me yet.

So let me provide a little clarity: I’m Lauren Potter, a 22-year-old medical student who spends the majority of her free time playing netball.

I play for three teams: Leeds University, my club team Leeds Athletic, and most notably I captain the Yorkshire Jets Superleague team.

Netball Superleague is the top netball league in England and Wales; netball’s equivalent of Premiership football, with professional players from Australia, New Zealand as well as the UK and even Grenada playing alongside home-grown talent! It is made up of eight different teams of which Yorkshire Jets is one and so I guess you could say we’re pretty good.

Lots of people seem to agree with this as well, Sky Sports covering some of our matches live, 700 plus sell-out crowds at every fixture and partnerships with Yorkshire Carnegie and companies such as Welcome to Yorkshire, who were behind the incredibly successful Yorkshire stages of the Tour de France.

Yorkshire Jets are coached by Anna Carter who is supported by Maggie Birkinshaw and Vicky Palmer.

I have been coached by Anna for at least eight years now and I think it’s fair to say our relationship has definitely changed during this time.

Anna’s reputation preceded her as a coach and she was known for accepting nothing less than perfection, handing out tough punishments if you didn’t perform to her high standards.

As a young girl with almost no experience of high-level netball I was often the one not quite up to scratch.

My team-mates laugh now about my lack of catching abilities as a youngster but I was certainly not laughing when I was pulled out of team drills to spend the two-hour session throwing and catching the ball against the gym wall.

My dad would constantly reassure me that it would get better eventually. I guess he must have been right as my fear has turned into respect for a great coach.

The Jets’ season starts a week on Friday when we face up to Loughborough Lightning at the EIS in Sheffield.

In fact, we play our matches all across the region, including Leeds, Hull and Huddersfield as ultimately we are a Yorkshire team and want everyone to have the chance to come and see what we’re about.

Next week, I will be looking ahead to that match as well as providing an insight into the joys of our preseason training.

I also intend to introduce one of our players to you each week and would love to answer any of your questions, netball or otherwise!

If you’d like to get in touch please tweet me personally at @_LaurenPotter92 or through Yorkshire Jets, @Yorkshirejets.