Welcome to the Ultimate Netball Club

19th March 2019


Earlier this year I was privileged and honoured to be selected as part of the short squad to represent Wales under 17 at Netball Europe.  On February 28 the Welsh squad made their way to Huddersfield for the three-day tournament against Scotland, England, The United Arab Emirates and Northern Ireland.  On arrival we made our way to the venue to get accustomed to our surroundings and to do a final training session before the Tournament began on Friday 1st March, St. David’s Day! 

We faced a demanding schedule of four fixtures in three days and began the tournament with two huge games in the first day. A crucial match for us was our very first game against our Celtic rivals, Scotland.  We knew the result of this game would be pivotal in where we might place overall.  The team got off to the best possible start winning by 9 goals, 55-46. There was then a quick turnaround for the squad as our next match was against England. With little recovery time, it was always going to be a massive challenge for us, and Wales showed resilience and togetherness in their performance, going down 72-26.  After the tournament we were able to take away the fact that Wales scored the most out of all the opposition against England, the eventual winners of NE 2019 and conceded the least amount of goals, something to take away and build on for the future.

The second day saw Wales face new entrant, the United Arab Emirates, winners of last year’s Netball Europe U17 Challenge. Wales were taking no chances in preparing for the match as the UAE defeated Northern Ireland in a nail-biter on Day 1.  The team were focused and clinical and in beating the UAE by 58-34 set themselves up for a chance at silver on the final day of competition. 

On the last day Wales took on Northern Ireland at lunchtime. Showing little sign of any nerves, Wales were keen to finish strongly, with an all-round great team effort Wales put Northern Ireland to the sword and recorded a very impressive 69-19 victory to round off their weekend and secure second place. 

I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of this squad, everyone played to the best of their abilities during the tournament and with their whole hearts.  I learned so much from this experience which will stay with me forever and will continue to help me on my netball journey.  I was thrilled and honoured to be asked to be the shooting captain and to achieve 4 International caps for Wales.

I can’t thank the coaches, Rhian Davies, Emma Meridith and Jo Ricketts, the support team, Jay Kitgrave, Ann-Louise Williamson and Keira Davies and my team mates enough for making this such an amazing experience.  The long hours of training, hard work, and effort, plus the incredible sense of family and enjoyment of our sport that was instilled in us all added no end to our whole journey for this tournament.

My personal thanks to Sach and Tricia who came to support me (and Bella) on the first day of the tournament.  It really meant a lot to know you were cheering us on from the crowds #BeAMaverick #Mavericksfamily

Lastly, I’d like to thank all the parents for supporting us and cheering us all on so loudly, it really helped carry us through when we needed a lift.  Thanks also to the organisers Netball Europe, Yorkshire Netball and the University of Huddersfield for hosting the event and making it all possible.

I really didn’t want the weekend to end.  Diolch yn fawr i bawb am profiad anhygoel!

BELLA BAYLIS – England U17

Netball Europe 2019 was a dream come true. 

It felt like I had been holding my breath since being selected for England’s U17 Squad in January.  I started the competition with a combination of excitement, nerves and determination.  

In Huddersfield it was great to meet my team mates again and then start our training session.  I think we were all very grateful to have that training session on the first day to banish the nerves and get to work.  Plus, we had chance to catch up and have some team bonding over dinner.  It was great and suddenly very real!  

First match was against Wales.  First cap. First chance to wear the dress! 

When the whistle blew it was great to see all the girls putting in to the game all the things we had worked on together in training.  I was happy when I got on the court in the second quarter as C. I couldn’t wait to start playing.  I can remember thinking that my first quarter on court for England went by in a flash and was so pleased I stayed on for the rest of the game.   

The next day we faced Northern Ireland and the United Arab Emirates.  I didn’t realise that I would be even more excited each time I put on an England dress.  In both games we had targets to help us focus on developing our play.  We tried lots of combinations and I played C and WA too.      

Scotland was our last game on Sunday.  It was a bit sad - because I didn’t want it to end.  By now the team were focusing on all we had learnt from previous matches and it was our last chance to show what we could do. 

I felt honoured to play for my country with such an amazing group of girls and form such strong friendships.  Funmi and Ella were great role models and helped me find my place in the team.  It was so reassuring to see my coaches faces on the bench and in the crowd and have my family supporting.  I managed not to cry during the presentation ceremony - which wasn’t easy.  I’m truly grateful for this incredible experience.