Jersey bid for inter-counties netball tournament

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Ann Halliwell, president of the Association, explained that 2008 is the 70th anniversary of the first inter-counties netball competition, and that by giving four years’ notice, counties will be able to plan ahead and finance their trip over here.’Education, Sport and Culture have given us every support,’ she said.

‘It is part of our overall plan for Island netball.

At the last UK tournament in April there were 52 sides.

I suspect not as many will travel to Jersey.’She was talking at a time when she, and Island Development Officer for netball, Linda Andrews, were looking ahead to the Island side playing in the UK national league division IV for the very first time.The Jersey Moore Stephens team earned that right having won the south-east regional tournament.

As winners they progress automatically into the fourth division, although theirs will be a testing time to stay there.’There are eight teams in the division,’ said Halliwell.’However, three teams go up, and another three go down.

The other regional winners are Avon, and Tyne and Wear.’Avon will be very hard to beat.

They have the England A-team coach, who has whipped her team well into shape.

They have also attracted a great number of girls from that area.

It’s a bit scary.’So this year’s ambition is a relatively modest one, to finish mid-table in the division – and not to go down.’The girls will find their games harder than they are used to,’ said Andrews.

‘They’ll be training with me once a fortnight from 11 September.

The clubs put their players’ names forward and between 16 and 18 players train together.’The first two games are on 8 and 9 November, when we travel to Southampton to play Sussex and Wiltshire.’These are the first of two games away before one of the teams, Leicestershire, brings its county side to Jersey in February.

Hopefully, they will also bring over an under-18 team to give Andrews’ younger Island side an idea of what it is like to play at such a high level.Before then, on 10 and 11 January, the Jersey side meet Avon and Somerset, away, and then in March they fly out to take on Tyne and Wear, and Suffolk, in Birmingham.Although there has been very little contact between Jersey and the English county sides on a regular basis in the past, Andrews has benefited, from a coaching point of view, in taking Island netballers to England trials.

Mary Blampied, who is returning to the sport after a year away, is a case in point, but there have also been young netballers, part of the Island Academy, who have also gone over.

The most recent two at under-16 level are Sophie Holmes and Abigail Hazeley.From such trips to the mainland Andrews picks up many useful coaching tips which in turn are passed on to her Island players.In the meantime both women are keen for there to be more qualified netball umpires – Jenny Le Cocq is the only one at A-level, county standard, for example – and Carol Fletcher, from the UK, will be running an umpires’ course in Jersey on 18 and 19 October.If interested in attending the umpires’ course, phone Rosie Joynson on 767470.

The JNA senior team is sponsored by Moore Stephens.

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