After a six-year hiatus from netball to play basketball, talented Ella Clark returns to the pitch as part of England Netball’s new full time programme, launched only last month.
Her first tournament back saw The Roses recently win Netball Europe, and Ella’s now part of a brand new England squad with big ambitions – selection for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and taking the World Title at the 2019 Netball World Cup.
“For me, Netball Europe was very important as it was my first time playing in any kind of England set up for six years. Winning any competition is great, but playing against Europe’s best teams was incredible.”
With a new team comes new challenges. We caught up with Ella to see how the new England Netball squad is working together to make their dream of becoming the best in the world a reality.
“A lot of us are new to working with each other, and this is a new full time programme, so a lot of us wouldn’t have been in this environment where you’re around each other a lot five days a week, every week, for however many months.
“We’re working on a few different things, not just in training – going out for dinner, building friendships and team building exercises outside of training are just as important.
“Trying to build that connection is vital for netball. Our main focus is getting back into the group, getting to know everyone and new combinations.”
In it together
Team work and solidarity means a lot to Ella, and no doubt to anyone in a sports team. The joy in being part of a team comes from sharing experiences together – to celebrate a win, or learn from mistakes when losing and moving forward to conquer next time round.
“Having someone else there going through the same thing as you, the pain you go through in training – to know you’re not suffering alone.
To have someone there to drive you on, to make you better. That’s what I like about being in a team sport,” Ella told Team England.
Advice for getting into a team sport
As a skilled athlete having successfully juggled two team sports for many years, Ella seems the prime candidate to offer advice for those who are looking to join a team, be it netball or otherwise.
Everyone has to start somewhere, surely. Campaigns such as Sport England’s This Girl Can has done wonders to break down barriers to sport for many women and girls, but how do you start if you’re shy to get involved and meet new people?
Ella had some words of wisdom:
“Just realise that everyone else has been in that same situation, everyone else has gone to that first training session with a brand new team and felt that anxiety.
The more time you spend with your teammates, the more they become your best friends. Everyone shares the same desires as you – you’re all going to the same place.”
We’re excited to follow how Ella and the new England Netball squad work together to achieve their dream over the coming months, so good luck to all from Team England!