Our England Netball team are also hoping to encourage more women and girls to take up the sport as they head out to the World Cup in Australia this August. The squad are currently undertaking an England on the Road tour, with their first stop in Newcastle on Monday 6th July, facing opponents Scotland. With Tracey Neville recently having named her 12-player World Cup squad, questions and suggestions buzzed around the North East about who she might start and which combinations would prove most successful in breaking down the Scottish defence.
The Roses were then more than happy to sign autographs and pose for photographs with the eager crowd, who had been behind their team all evening. We were also able to catch up with England captain, Geva Mentor, and crowd favourite, Serena Guthrie (who, according to members of the support staff, together with Jo Harten is a “nightmare” as they both enjoy joking around!).
A lot of people had shown interest in the food that players eat before and after a match, so we put this question to Serena...who admitted that she loves nothing more than a pre-match cheese and ham toastie. Her favourite post-match food is the, slightly healthier, stir fry.
When asked about dealing with nerves, Geva admitted she can still get very nervous before matches and that she tries to follow a particular routine to calm those nerves. Once she takes to the court, the nerves are eased - although Geva admitted that she does have to stay focussed on the game being played out on court, and doesn’t let her mind wander. Geva also told us that after a match, she loves to sit back and watch television with the other girls and do anything they can to take their mind off netball and what might have just happened on court.
Speaking to Serena about tough opposition and World Cup preparation, she said that the Australians were probably the toughest opposition she has come up against, along with a couple of individual players she has faced whilst playing in the ANZ league. We then turned to chatting about the World Cup training. When asked about the differences between Commonwealth Games and the current preparations, Serena highlighted that the preparations have been very, very different (being under two different coaches) – although equally as tough and enjoyable!
We had slightly longer to chat to Geva, and thought it crucial to ask how her recovery from her recent surgery was going. The crowd at Sport Central had shown great enthusiasm as Geva joined the squad in their warm up and led them out for the national anthem; later showing signs of disappointment when she didn’t take to the court. Geva explained that she is six weeks post-surgery and, given the fantastic medical treatment she has received, should be able to take to the court later this week or next week...meaning that the supporters in Newcastle narrowly missed seeing their captain in action.
We also asked Geva to imagine that she was the “Queen of netball” (some would argue that she already is!) and if she could add another rule to the game, what it would be. Initially Geva said that, as a defender, she would take out the “intimidation” rule as this made defending more challenging than it already was. The rule that she would add, would be to add a video review, or hawk-eye, for when decisions were slightly contentious.
Finally, we asked Geva what one word or phrase she would like the England squad to be described as. After some contemplation, Geva gave us three answers: fierce, tenacious and consistent. Those words speak for themselves, and it is clear that the lady leading us (hopefully to victory!) in Australia is determined that England will only build upon the sporting success that British women have seen so far this year.
We would like to thank Team Northumbria for hosting this fantastic event and would like to wish our girls the best of luck as they travel to Australia and fight to be crowned world champions.
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