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On Saturday 19th March Roedean’s 1st Netball Team travelled to The National Schools Netball Championships, having qualified for the finals by winning the Sussex and South Round Competitions in November 2010 and February 2011.
The event took place in Southampton on a glorious sunny day. Our squad of 9 players Caitlin Boyland, Sharon Jacobs, Jess Jasper, Nkem Ike-Nwabuoku, Ope Salau, Harriet Scott, Gabby and Phoebe Tomlinson, and Edwina Wilson were about to embark on playing in the most prestigious schools netball tournament in England Netball's calendar. Hazel Robin accompanied the team as Scorer.
18 schools had qualified in each of the three age groups and Roedean were placed in a section with Baines School, Bancroft’s School, Oakham School, Petroc, Royal Grammar School, Shambrook Upper School, Woodhouse Grove School and Wrekin College.
Our results were as follows in the order we played the matches:
Shambrook Upper School lost 7 – 12
Wrekin College drew 11 – 11
Baines School won 13 – 11
Petroc drew 9 – 9
Woodhouse Grove School won 11 – 6
Royal Grammar School drew 13 – 13
Oakham School won 13 - 8
Bancroft’s School won 11 – 9
The excitement of the tournament was apparent from the moment our team arrived at the venue. Gazebos and bunting, players and officials were in abundance. The atmosphere was absolutely amazing. Our squad were ready to spring into action and Caitlin Boyland our Ist Team Captain said ‘the event looked impressive and the atmosphere was fantastic’. Caitlin had come prepared to win the toss for every centre pass with a very shiny and lucky coin! Throughout the matches the team were not able to take their foot off the pedal as the players described the enormity of the occasion. I remember saying to the girls, as they recalled back to me at the end of the tournament ‘be strong in your minds and you will feel strong inside’.
Alison Goulet and Jane Carnaghan have coached the team throughout the season. Jane took responsibility throughout the tournament for preparing the girls for each game with specific ball handing and reaction drills. Sharp and well prepared our team took each match by storm. The girls knew they were up against the best players in the country and each match was going to be as competitive as it gets. Before, during and after each game Alison directed the players with tips on how to step up a level to stay on top of their game. Alison and Jane carefully thought through the team selection game by game, aiming to bring out the best in all the players. Selection was spot on and players were thrilled with the ‘wins’ and reflected on how the ‘draws’ that had given them 3 points may have been converted to a win with 5 points. With every game we knew that we were still in contention for the all important place in the semi final.
On twitter during the afternoon, England Netball quoted that 'Bancroft’s are leading Group F but there is a real tussle for second place. Petroc, Roedean, Shambrook and Woodhouse Grove were all in contention'...
Going into the final match we had worked out that one of the early 'draws' had cost us dearly; we were just short of the points needed. We didnt tell the girls and they went into that final round full of drive and determined to raise their game even further. Bancroft School had easily beaten all of the teams before us and we knew it would be a tough, seemingly impossible match to win. The challenge was on and players said to each other as they stepped onto court ‘let’s go and let’s work hard’. The game was 7 - 3 to us at half time and finished in a win for Roedean 11 – 9. The team were ecstatic as we all huddled together in a moment’s reflection. The enormity of the occasion was about to hit home – tears of joy!
What a day! Our U19 team had finished a very respectable 3rd place in their section and 5th overall out of the 18 teams in their age group that had represented their regions. Being in the tournament at this stage of the championships was a first for Roedean and now to ranked in the top 5 schools in England at this level was a dream come true.
Each player has a great deal to be proud of, as do Alison and Jane. It was a great privilege to see our first netball team play so competitively and at such a high level.
Head of PE
20th March 2011