We have had 25xU16 players this season who contributed to the squad qualifying for Nationals, so thanks and well done for your part in this journey. Having a big squad has allowed most of the squad to play senior netball in order to be ready for Nationals, and also meaning that everyone got the right level of competition. It bodes well as an approach for future years. 12 players of that U16 squad were selected for the Nationals squad and travelled to Essex for the weekend with the coaches and their families. To show the strength and depth of the squad, who all took to the court, here are the results from the Nationals weekend where the country’s top 18 teams play out for positions 1-18 across 63 matches over two full days, each of 8 min quarters. A very strong set of mostly very convincing wins against teams from a range of regions.
- Saturday Group 1 - Win vs Ryland 41-10 & Win vs Weston Park Blades 36-10
- Saturday Group 2 - Win vs Oaksway 29-22 &Win vs Lincoln City 45-7
- Sunday Group 3 - Win vs Telstars 31-25 & Loss to Tameside 18-22
- 3/4th play-off match was a fiercely contested match vs Bury, in which we came out on top by just one goal, with a 25-24 win. Not great for the blood pressure, but a great way to finish the tournament and have to wait for the presentation ceremony.
- The final was very close, between Eagles and Tameside, eventually being decided in extra time and Tameside coming out on top as champions again. So we had just on loss, by four goals to the eventual champions
- The other Yorkshire team, Chevrons, did well, winning some matches in their Saturday groups, losing in their Sunday group, and eventually playing against Henley for 11/12th position. They won that game in extra time to seal 11th place, well done.
As ever, Nationals weekend offered a great experience and the chance for everyone to develop. Finishing with a win and a medal was incredible experience both on and off court for these youngsters, learning to work as a team, cope with pressure and enjoy themselves whilst also working very hard and being very focussed. Our coaching team of Anna and Maggie lead the girls brilliantly across the intense highs and lows of the weekend, constantly advising them but also letting them work out stuff for themselves. The squad got lots of unsolicited comments about their standard of play and their conduct, a huge credit to them as players and people and to the Club as well.
Off court, we had an amazing support team, in which everyone played a role. Thanks to everyone. Although I am bound to miss someone, I am going to namecheck because it will give others a flavour of what Nationals weekend is all about. So, thanks to: Sally for sorting food & restaurants; Yvonne for sorting hotel; the dads for constant water bottle filling and carrying kit bag and ball bag; Katie Kelly for her incredible social media reporting and keeping everyone at home up to date with the results and the action – no easy task; Lucy for accurate scoring under pressure & very good present buying; Paul for photo stuff; various for Costa coffee runs and Tesco runs; and to everyone for their loud and appropriate support to their own athletes and to the whole squad from the balcony. Thanks from me, Maggie and Anna for our presents, very kind.
View from the bench - I was privileged to be Team Manager for the squad this weekend: securing a birdseye view of the games; gaining insight about the subtleties of the game at this level from Anna and Maggie and being impressed about the impact they had on the level of play; honoured to see the way all 12 athletes supported each other in so many different ways on court during play and from the bench, and in between games; amazed to hear and feel the support from the balcony and on social media from home; and lucky to feel the emotion of what this achievement meant to these athletes (many of whom playing their last junior tournament)! Unanimous feedback from players, coaches and parents was that this was a “best ever” Nationals in so many ways, so we are fortunate to have incredible memories of a special weekend spent with a great bunch of kids, families and coaches. I know that many at the Club already have those special Nationals memories, but I also hope that many more will in the coming years.
In other news: our U12 teams were both victorious over Allus teams as they prepare for their Regional tournament. Next up in terms of Nationals, it is our U14 who will travel to Birmingham for their tournament on the last weekend in May, so let’s get behind them. Before that, we face Premier League play offs next weekend, which will determine whether we stay in Premier League 1 or are demoted to Premier League 2. This involves a weekend trip to Nottingham to play three matches over two days. In June, our U12 will head to the Regional Tournament to do us proud and have a great experience.
And lastly, please buy a ticket for the Awards presentation, 19 May, Thorner. Tickets available from Tim Barber or your age group admin. Let’s make it a special night.