Netball 1st Team Remain on Target

1st team captain Clare Jones offers an insight into the trials and tribulations of top level netball.

Exeter Netball Premier Division

The Exeter University netball 1st team girls have had an emotional and physical journey to get to where they are today in BUCS Premier South League.

A four year plan was introduced by Charlotte Hale who started working with the squad in 2008.

The aim was to get the Exeter 1st team girls back into the Premier Division where they belong, and to sustain their position in the league for years to come.

After three years, the Exeter 1st team of 2010 were on form for early promotion, however disappointingly missed out by one point.

The girls became hungry for that place in the top flight, and come 2011, training commenced everyday with just one goal in sight – promotion!

The pain, sweat and tears finally paid off as the girls wish was granted and they received promotion in March 2011 after beating both Cambridge and Kent in a three way Promotion playoff.

Although the girls had obtained a place in the prestigious league of Premier, it most certainly did not mean the girls could rest easy.

1st September 2011 – pre- season began for the girls; their strength and conditioning coach Alan Pope (otherwise known as ‘Beef’) put every individual through their paces.

It was a test of how badly the girls wanted to stay in Premier Division, knowing full well they would soon be playing on the same court as senior international and Super League players.

The Captain of Exeter University 1st team netball, Clare Jones, stated: “as tough as pre-season was, it only made us more driven to stay up in Prem amongst the most elite players within the country, it was also really good for our team moral as we are all very much acquainted with each other – like a small family!’’

As the BUCS matches started the Exeter girls were off to a flying start beating their first opposition, Cardiff University, 55-44 and the girls set a high bar proving they were a team to look out for.

Charlotte Hale, the Coach of Exeter University first team was ecstatic with their first result and comments: “To travel up to Cardiff in our first fixture and to beat a team who have been in this division for several years was a credit to the girls hard work, focus and determination to succeed and achieve their goals. It has given us the confidence boost needed to really go out and compete for a top half position in this league.”

The girls continued to surprise teams such as UWIC and Bath, although the Exeter girls lost to both teams they received rewarding comments from the oppositions coaches and fitness coaches congratulating them on their notable display of netball.

The success sustained for the girls after their second win against Gloucestershire University, 55 – 25, placing them in 4th place.

The girls gained confidence and momentum week after week and it was clear they were beginning to believe they deserved to be in the prem with the elite.

The final game in the first half of the season was against Brunel University whereby they marginally missed out on a win leaving the score 39 – 40.

Clare Jones said: “I think I speak on behalf of the girls when I say we only started to believe in ourselves when it was too late.

“However we are very much looking forward to facing them the second time round, we know what to expect and we are very much excited we’ll be competing for third place in our first year in Prem – I am extremely proud!”

From the beginning of the year, the girls entered the league as the underdogs, however, due to their hard work and commitment they have quickly gained respect from the other teams in the league, which is a great achievement for the girls in their first year in Prem.

The girls constantly work hard every day to display an impressive style of netball.

All their training however, would not be possible if it wasn’t for their coach Charlotte Hale and their S&C coach Alan Pope, two people the girls have the utmost respect for and appreciate the dedication both coaches give to the girls.

First year Bethan Zeidler who shot straight into the 1s concludes that: “it was an easy move to EUNC, as from the word 'go' I was welcomed by the girls. They're used to training day-in, day-out but they made a massive effort to help me settle in. I was majorly impressed with the high standard facilities and coaching that girls receive in order to perform at the level they do.”