First off, how are you and how is your 2021 going?
2021 has been a really exciting year for me despite the national lockdowns! I have enjoyed being able to ‘slow down’, spend some quality time at home whilst on maternity leave, and get to grips with motherhood, having had my baby girl, Savannah, in August of 2020.
I was also really fortunate to be included in the Team Bath Netball Superleague squad for the 2020/ 2021 season, and I relished the opportunity under the Government’s elite athlete framework during the lockdown, to be able to engage in the elite training environment at Bath with my teammates in order to compete in the Netball Superleague 2021 season.
The last year has been challenging for us all in a variety of ways, so it’s also been wonderful to invest in and reconnect more frequently with family and friends.
Can you tell us about your career in netball?
I first started playing netball at secondary school and if I’m honest, I only started playing because my friends played and I loved the social aspect that comes with team sport. However, the more I played, the more competitive I became and I started to fall in love with the game.
I remember my mum taking me to watch England v Australia at Wembley when I was 12. I was mesmerized by the speed of the game and the ‘Amazonian’ athletes. It was there and then, that I developed my dream to one day play for England and wear the coveted ‘Red Dress’.
I debuted for the England Netball Senior Squad in 2008 and to date, I sit on 104 appearances which span across 3 World Cup Championships and 3 Commonwealth Games. Our greatest success was winning the Gold Medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, beating tournament and world favourites, Australia, by one goal in a thrilling final.
When did you first discover Netball and what do you love most about it?
My mum had a major influence in my desire to participate in sport. She herself, was national basketball and netball player at junior level and she always encouraged me to get involved and take part.
What I love most about netball is the community that you become a part of. It is a sisterhood and the friendships that I have made will transcend my career in the sport and are what have made the journey and continue to make the journey thoroughly enjoyable. Through the highs and the lows, it’s the unwavering support, the commitment to build on each other’s strengths, the fun, the memories and most importantly the laughter is what glues me to the sport and why I am so passionate about it.
How has the sport changed in your lifetime?
There has been a real growth in awareness and the development of netball. The sport provides opportunities for people around the world.
It has been amazing to see the growth of the sport especially with the world-class events I’ve been lucky to be involved in. The launch of World Netball and their new strategy has shown how much the sport has grown into a global game that’s providing opportunities for people around the world. It’s really exciting to see the sport look ahead.
Can you tell us about World Netball’s campaign #YOURNETBALLWORLD?
The Your Netball World mosaic was all about collecting inspirational stories from the netball family around the world. The mosaic has over 1400 entries from 30+ countries and was revealed to mark two years to go until the Netball World Cup 2023 in South Africa – there are some really amazing and heart-warming stories in there, it’s been wonderful to see the netball family come together. View the mosaic here!
What are your top tips for adults wanting to get back into playing netball?
Do it, do it, do it! Find a local session near to you using the Netball Finder tool on the England Netball Website. Just enter your postcode and pop along. I promise you after you take the first step, you’ll enjoy it and won’t look back!
Why do you think playing team sports is so important?
Team sports are important as it allows you to build a connection with like-minded individuals with a common goal. It also assists with the development of physical ability and emotional intelligence. In my opinion, netball is one of the greatest team sports because it requires little resource but it can cater to a large group of individuals. It is a sport that is wholly inclusive, there is no prescribed body type or skill ability needed in order to play the game and it can be played by anyone, the young and old.
What are you currently working on?
My maternity leave ends at the beginning of September and I will return to my role as a solicitor. So I am currently making the most of my time with Savannah and my husband doing day visits to local attractions and visiting family members.
I am also engaging with some summer training with the England Netball Roses as we look forward to the Commonwealth Games in 2022 to be held in Birmingham. I still have a long way to go in terms of getting back physically to where I was before, so I am taking this pre-season training one step at a time, being kind to myself (reminding myself, I had a baby 11 months ago and it’s ok to go slowly), and enjoying the process.
Can you tell us some of the most inspiring women in sports you follow online?
Serena Williams – The G.O.A.T., an ultimate champion who epitomises hard work, determination, resilience and what it means to break down social barriers and continuously change the narrative.
Denise Lewis OBE – An Olympic Gold Medallist, Mum of 4, Wife, TV Pundit/Presenter and businesswoman. The list goes on, but I consider her to be a real-life example of a high achiever, a woman of ambition who when she graces our TV screens always delivers with poise, eloquence and elegance.
What does your perfect weekend look like?
A perfect weekend is a healthy and hearty family breakfast followed by a long outdoor walk, usually along the Salisbury plains or around the Longleat Forest in the sunshine. Recently we’ve been able to strap Savannah into her Thule buggy and continue our love of exploring with ease. I love spending time with my family and I find that getting outdoors with little to no distractions allows us to connect and spend real quality time together.
After an outdoor adventure, food is always key. So retreating to a quaint countryside eatery which serves good food and drinks is a must! I try to fit in a workout at the gym at some point and more recently ensure that I touch base with family members near and far over zoom (as we haven’t been able to do so in person).
Weekends for me are a time to rest, relax and unwind; so at some point, you are also guaranteed to find me in a bath with some Epsom salts, a Mum and You face mask on and a True Grace candle burning. I try to always carve out some ‘me’ time where possible. I feel like it keeps me sane and allows me to retain a personal sense of identity, away from all the different ‘hats’ that I wear on a daily and working week basis.
What do you always carry with you?
I wear a single necklace that has two interconnecting rings as the centrepiece. On the largest ring, I have my name and my husband’s name inscribed alongside our wedding date. On the smaller ring, I have my daughter’s name, Savannah inscribed alongside her birthdate. Alongside my weddings rings, it’s the most treasured piece of jewellery I own!
What would your last ever meal be?
My mum’s Spaghetti Bolognese. It’s food for the soul and it always puts a smile on my face.
What is one positive piece of advice you could give to our audience?
Don’t be afraid to fail. Be afraid to not try. You’ll be richer for the experience regardless of the outcome.