Newsbeat

Netball a 'future for aspiring athletes', England coach says

Northern Ireland v Scotland Image copyright Presseye

Netball can be a career for aspiring female athletes, England's coach Tracey Neville has told Newsbeat.

The financial support women need to pursue netball full-time is available, she says.

England Netball now supports 33 full-time players and Tracey says that number will grow as long as the money keeps coming in.

"Netball is a future - playing netball and doing the sport you love, you never have to work," she says.

"For a lot of young girls out there, it is an aspiration.

"We do have the resources to be able to financially support these players.

"It's an exciting prospect for netball and women's sport in general."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Netball England financially supports 33 full-time players

It's a big weekend for the sport in the UK.

England - who are ranked third in the world - are playing in the the Quad Series at the Copper Box in London.

On Saturday they take on New Zealand and they'll play Australia on Monday evening.

Both teams sit above them in the world rankings.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption England captain Ama Agbeze

England captain Ama Agbeze says her team are "excited" about the upcoming matches.

"They're the last games we'll have before we go to the Commonwealth Games in April, so it's a real test.

"Last year we performed really well against Australia and New Zealand so we're hoping we can improve on that and start beating them."

World Cup Qualifiers

The Netball World Cup is taking place in Liverpool in July 2019, so England automatically get a place.

But Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are competing against each other this weekend in Perth for a chance to qualify.

Only two of them can go through to the finals.

'Fast and aggressive'

Image copyright Netball NI

Northern Ireland, ranked eighth in the world, seemingly have the best chance of getting through to the World Cup.

But team captain Caroline O'Hanlon told Newsbeat that doesn't mean they're taking any chances.

"There is very little between the teams.

"This is a World Cup qualifier so everybody will be going for it - but I think we're in the best condition we've ever been in."

"We're a very fast and aggressive team.

"We have really accurate shooters so we should be able to punish them."

'Tenacity and flair'

Image copyright Suzy Drain

Wales - who are ranked ninth in the world - will be looking to move the ball down the court quickly, Captain Suzy Drain says.

"We're not the tallest team, so we'll be looking to cover that with ball speed."

Image copyright Suzy Drain
Image caption Wales captain Suzy Drain says their team will "move quickly" as they take on Northern Ireland and Scotland

Defender Nia Jones, who also plays for the Wales women's football team, "brings tenacity and flair".

Beth Dyke, who plays in midcourt and is described as a "pocket rocket", and "up-and-coming player" Sarah Llewellyn, will be hoping to score in the circle.

'Youth and experience'

Image copyright Netball Scotland

The Scottish Thistles are the lowest ranked team in the qualifiers - at eleventh in the world - but with all the games being played in Perth they have the home advantage.

Captain Claire Brownlee thinks that will definitely help.

"We know the fans are going to be cheering loud and proud," she tells Newsbeat.

"We've got some of the best fans in the world and they're going to give us that extra few percent on court that's going to make sure we cross the line as winners at the weekend."

Image copyright Netball Scotland

The team are more prepared than they've ever been, Claire says, with a squad full of "youth and experience".

The World Cup qualifying games will be live streamed on the BBC.

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