Copper Box rocks as netball fans show increasing support for England Roses
PUBLISHED: 12:00 27 January 2018 | UPDATED: 07:35 30 January 2018
2018 Getty Images
Netball has come a long way from just being played with orange balls on gravely school playgrounds – although it is still a great place to start.
Last year, almost 30,000 players pounded the courts in England and there was a 44 per cent increase in participation at grassroots level.
The booming interest in the sport at a national level could also be seen at the Copper Box Arena in Stratford, which was recently filled with fans as England Roses took on the Australian Diamonds in the Quad Series.
England had beaten New Zealand in extra time two days earlier, but quickly fell two goals behind and saw their Aussie rivals increase the difference to 16-11 by the end of the first quarter.
Home fans were unwavering in their support, though, and the venue erupted in cheers to spur them on.
The Diamonds’ slick play carried through the second period and the visiting squad quickly capitalised on England’s errors and missed goals to take the score to 28-21.
But things started to get more interesting for English fans in the third quarter and the excitement levels started to build after a series of quick combinations from England and accurate shots at the net.
The atmosphere was electric as the Roses managed to win the quarter by a four-goal margin to pull back the difference to within three at 37-34.
But despite some tenacious, passionate play from the home squad, they couldn’t hang on and the final score was 50-46 to the Australians.
England shooter Kadeen Corbin, a former member of the Barking Abbey Academy with sister Sasha, said the game was a rollercoaster of emotions and a big battle for the team.
“It was a bit wavy at times but you know we did fight to the end, and we got the turnovers that we needed,” she said.
“It wasn’t enough to clinch those extra goals, but I felt we fought throughout that game.
“It was very hard, I am not going to lie, the battle was definitely on and they were trying to shut a lot in the circle.
“Now it is (all about) how we combat that and move on for the next game.”
Corbin appreciated the support from the fans and said events like the Quad Series, the upcoming Commonwealth Games in Australia and the 2019 World Cup in England keep the sport on the public’s radar.
“We always want to give back to our community and this is a great spectacle of netball,” she added.
“The more we show it commercially, the bigger it will get and hopefully, things will happen (for the next generation of netball players) in the future.”
The action certainly impressed local fans, with Barking’s Sarah Mount, 20, saying: “My heart was actually beating towards the end, it was a brilliant game even though we lost. I am pleased Netball is starting to get the recognition it deserves as it is a great sport with lots of skill.”
Daniella Hinds, 27, of Goodmayes, added: “The match was brilliant, England worked hard and kept at it all the way through.
“Watching them all out there made me what to up my game. It was inspirational and I saw moves I am going to try in my games.”
Meanwhile, Romford’s Danielle Becks, 26, said: “I have been playing since I was little, but it feels like there has been a shift in the sport. More girls are playing it to a competitive level, there is even a men’s league as well and I really think it could go on to be a big as football in the future.”
England: GS Corbin, GA Housby, WA Pitman, C Guthrie, WD Clarke, GD Agbeze, GK Mentor.
Australia: GS Bassett, GA Wood, WA Watson, C Ravaillion, WD Simpson, GD Weston, GK Bruce.