The Lionesses’ dominant performance at the European Football Championships has highlighted a national desire to see more women’s sport. And – luckily enough – the England Netball team happen to be in the middle of defending their historic gold medal, from the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Spoiler alert: they’ve got off to a great start, winning all of their matches so far.
Despite the sport making front page news when the England women’s team struck gold in 2018, netball is often unfairly maligned for its perceived association with Year 11 PE lessons and ugly school uniform skirts. But times are changing; it’s estimated that more than 319,000 people play netball at least twice a month in the UK, making it one of the most widely played participation sports in the country.
GLAMOUR chatted to Eboni Usoro-Brown (who has won three Netball World Cups) and Jade Clarke (England’s most-capped netball player of all time) to find out more about the oh-so-exciting future of netball.
If you’ve never seen a game of netball before, you’re in for a treat. For many people watching the sport for the first time, it’s a shock to see just how dynamic and fast-paced it is. As Eboni tells GLAMOUR, “What people are most surprised about nowadays is the level of physicality, the pace, and the athleticism.
“For so long it’s been considered a school girl’s game, but from 2018 to now, the profile has been raised so much, and we are reaching new audiences. There are also misconceptions around the inclusivity of the sport – people think it’s just for women, but it’s not, as our partnership with England Men’s and Mixed Netball Association shows.”
She adds, “We’re determined to show people how much the game has evolved, it’s inclusive, it’s so much more than your PE lesson that you tried to get out of.”
Jade agrees, noting that, “For many people, the last time they’ve played it was at school, but the sport’s profile is rising thanks to the Vitality Super League [which airs on Sky Sports] and the Commonwealth Games [highlights of which will be aired on BBC iPlayer].”
Are the England team feeling the pressure? Eboni reflects on their surprise win back in 2018, saying, “We went into the 2018 competition as underdogs and performed way above what was expected of us. Although we’ve got six returning players from that squad, we’ve also six new players, so it’s a new squad and a new challenge.
“For so long, Australia and New Zealand have been ranked No.1 and No.2 in the world, and we’ve been ranked third. We plan to just focus on each game, hopefully win each quarter, and let the results take care of themselves.”