Last weekend, the top school netball teams gathered on the Wirral for the annual National Schools competition.
Ask any senior netball player and they will have many fond memories of school and club tournaments growing up, despite the cold and rain! In fact, at times I remember it being so cold that we all needed hand warmers at half-time just so that it wasn’t excruciating when you caught the ball!
Nevertheless, I have countless fond memories of tournament days and in particular will never forget being the surprise Under-14s runners up at a National Schools tournament many years ago!
Yorkshire’s representative schools did incredibly well this year with Huddersfield’s Greenhead College retaining the Under-19 title and the Under-16 team from The Grammar School at Leeds becoming runners up!
One of the players from the successful Greenhead team a year ago is Yorkshire Jets player, Lydia Walker who made her Superleague debut a couple of weeks ago live on Sky Sports.
Meanwhile, current Greenhead College student Imogen Allison and Grammar School at Leeds’ Rosie Harris gained their first national caps whilst competing at the Under-17 European Championships, held in Hull. The Under-17 European Championships also holds great memories for me as I captained the England side at the time to victory in sunny Gibraltar. These memories mean that I can easily associate with so many of the schoolgirls who come to cheer us on every week.
Any of those girls could be the next National School Champions, or the Under-17 England captain or even be given the incredible honour of captaining a Superleague side just like me!
Yorkshire Jets place a lot of emphasis on inspiring many schoolgirls to play netball.
Jets centre court player, Sally Butters and super shooter, Timmy Cato joined students from John Smeaton Academy, Temple Moor High School and Corpus Christi High School a couple of weeks ago at the launch of Leeds United Foundation’s new Premier League 4 Sport Netball programme. This exciting programme is designed to target increase participation in children over 14.
However, the youngsters in Yorkshire were also catered for as Tuaine Keenan, Sally Butters and Nikala Smith helped to inspire around 50 young girls aged under 11 at the festival of the sport at Giggleswick School.
Nikala said after the event: “You never know when you’ll find the Superleague stars of the future which is why we’re always delighted to be able to visit schools and meet pupils across Yorkshire.”
There were plenty of schoolgirls from Hull at our match on Monday against Team Northumbria.
The start of the match was a little slow, perhaps the result of a weekend off. But we Jets girls ground it out towards the end of the first quarter and took the lead 14-11. Northumbria, who have had a tough couple of matches, were not going to let a win slip past easily and they brought it back to 27-27 at half-time. All the girls, including myself, were far from happy with our first-half performances and I know I certainly went on in the second half fully intending to lead my team to the win.
This change in attitude paid dividends as we retook a four-goal lead in the third quarter and pushed to a final score win of 58-49!
On Friday we’re back in Leeds playing Surrey Storm, so it will be the clash of second versus third. We are fully intending to bring 60 minutes of quality netball in front of a crowd which has been sold out for weeks.