England Netball – Take centre stage among the sporting elite

England Netball – Take centre stage among the sporting elite

Back in April, thousands of English netball supporters sat in the dark at 4am, waiting for the Netball Final of the Commonwealth Games – hoping England would take it to the Aussies and make it a good game.  We hoped, prayed and wished for a win – but with the home team producing several strong performances and dominating the international scene, it seemed a difficult task.  It was a great game – the Vitality Roses definitely took it to the Aussies and history was made.  The netball world order had shifted and we will all remember where we were the moment Helen Housby sank the final goal and all screaming and running around our living rooms at 5 in the morning.

Image – Sky News

What we witnessed was a team of women who dug deep, they weren’t phased when they went behind, they weren’t pushed off the ball in a physical game and they took every opportunity they earned and were sometimes given.  With a new coaching team and a centralised – they were doing things differently and it worked.  This was the result of years of hard work from the players, the coaching staff and the governing body.  They had worked tirelessly for this moment, they wanted it, deserved it and they took it with both hands.

In the netball world – we knew this was huge!  The players were superstars and amongst ourselves we celebrated the achievements of this team and coaching staff – they had changed the netballing landscape and inspired generations.  More girls took to the courts to learn the game and thousands of women dusted off the netball kit and found themselves a team – England Netball saw an increase in participation of 130k in just 3months.  Since that Gold medal, Nike have been announced as the England Netball kit sponsor, Sport England committed to further investment and Vitality signed a huge sponsorship deal.  Netball had moved into the spotlight and last night was the opportunity to shine on the world stage.

(Photo credit:  FRANCOIS-XAVIER MARIT/AFP/Getty Images)

At the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards, the Vitality Roses stood proudly on the stage in front of the international sporting elite.  Every long journey they made for a game, the juggling of studying and full time jobs with training, every sprint that hurt, the pain of losing, the injuries and the setbacks –it was all worth it.  They will have remembered the first match they won, their first teammates, the coach who introduced them to the game and most off all their parents, family and friends who supported them through every selection, every victory and every loss –it all led them to here.

Image via The Netball Show – Twitter

As the England Netball team stepped on to the stage to be presented with Team of the Year and Sporting Moment of the Year at the SPOTY awards – it was their time, their turn and they deserved to win – but most all they belonged.  Women’s sport was centre stage in the arena of sporting greatness and they had their place – inspiring the next generation – as after all ‘if you can see it – you can be it’.