Over the weekend of 9th-12th June, Bradley Stoke Netball Club’s (BSNC’s) First Team took part in their first ever European netball tournament. For the last 14 years, netball tour for BSNC has only been as far as Pontins at Brean Sands – so this was somewhat more exotic!
Ten squad members joined 22 other netball teams, plus the Netball Superleague team Surrey Storm, at the 5-star La Manga resort in Spain for a weekend of netball and sunshine.
Having finished a strong fifth out of ten in the Avon Premier League this season, with a winning streak in their last few games, the squad were on a high going out to Spain. It felt like all the great skills imparted to them by head coach Helen Newman had come together at the right time and the team would be in strong position to do well at the tournament. But the other teams were an unknown, so anything could happen.
The tournament was held over two days. On arrival at the courts, the teams were treated to a mini-tournament against the Netball Superleague winning side Surrey Storm. Each team got three minutes to challenge Surrey Storm, whose team members include Pamela Cookey and Tamsin Greenway, who have been England Netball regulars. The BSNC girls took up the challenge and managed to hold their own. Karen Beaven managed to sink a penalty goal shot so that the team finished only 2-1 down, which felt like a massive achievement.
The start of the seeding tournament didn’t go so well and BSNC lost their first game. But the team managed to re-group and draw the next match and win the final two games. Combined with other teams results at the end of the day this meant that they had qualified to be in the Plate competition on Day 2.
After a small dancefloor mishap on Friday night, resulting in four stitches for one player to a deep cut from broken glass and a niggling injury for another player, the team was down to seven players for the Saturday tournament – so no substitution options all day.
Despite this, the lack of sleep and the intense heat, BSNC won all four of their first games, taking no prisoners. Each game was 12 minutes and the final score across the four matches was 72-11 to BSNC. Things were looking promising.
The squad were on a high and this showed as they stormed through the quarter-finals and then the semi-finals to reach the final versus Triple TTT, who had also won all their matches.
The pressure was on as the team took to the court in front of a crowd of club netballers and the Surrey Storm players, but Bradley Stoke kept their cool and edged ahead in the first few minutes. At half time the score was 5-2 – far from comfortable, but Bradley Stoke were unstoppable and edged ahead further in the second-half to finish 10-4 winners and champions of the Plate competition. Celebrations and champagne spraying followed, plus a fabulous evening awards dinner and ceremony. It was a dream come true for all the players.
Huge congratulations to Karen Beavan, Katherine Budden, Rosie James, Lucy Jackson, Sarah Herbert, Jo Maxwell, Su Chung, Catherine Hassall, Emma Hussey and Jeni Jones (Captain).
Hopefully the squad will be back at La Manga next year to defend their title.
Bradley Stoke Netball Club seniors train at the Jubilee Centre on a Wednesday night from 7.30 to 9.30pm from July to April. For more details, visit www.bradleystokenetball.com