Netball: Funding boost is deserved - Sarah Penny

Team Northumbria goal defence Sarah Penny believes the funding boost for netball is recognition of the work put in by the sport's national body.

Funding was raised to £25.3m from £6.6m by Sport England in December, preceding England's 3-0 whitewash of Australia.

"England Netball have worked hard over the years to promote a sport they passionately believe in."

"It's exciting they have finally been recognised for their hard work," Penny told BBC Look North.

Imports are now a support to us, rather than an integral part, and we're looking at a team full of people who have learned their trade in the north east

Sarah Penny

She continued: "It's not an Olympic sport, so it can sometimes be pushed to the sideline, but the participation rate is one of the highest in the country."

Penny is part of the squad for the Newcastle-based Super League side, who begin their season with a home game against Loughborough Lightning.

Imports Sally Butters from Australia, New Zealander Emma Woodings and Namibia's Toetsie Kambatuku have been merged with players from across the north east, including Natalie Connor, Deborah Percy and Leah Kennedy.

"It's where we wanted to get to with Team Northumbria," Penny added.

"Imports are now a support to us, rather than an integral part, and we're looking at a team full of people who have grown and learned their trade in the north east.

"We've got some players who have been off playing in other places and have come back, we've got some home-grown talent coming through - the youngsters - and then there are people like me who have been around for ages who are just excited to still be involved."