Netball's popularity in the UK has skyrocketed, partly due to extended media coverage, but mainly due to the recent success of the England Netball team.
Last summer, England beat Australia against all odds to win Commonwealth Gold, which inspired a new generation of netball players. England, having reached their first major final, claimed gold thanks to a last gasp winner from Helen Housby, giving England a 52-51 victory.
Netball has become the largest female sport within the University BUCS programme
and has over 400 teams competing each season.
In 2014 England submitted a bid to host the 2019 World Cup in Liverpool. A year later they were successful and this July, Liverpool will host 16 nations at the M&S Bank Arena for the 15th staging of the competition.
The last World Cup was held in Sydney and host Country Australia picked up their 11th title. England picked up Bronze, finishing third.
their World Cup campaign against Uganda on 12th July at 7pm
. Back in November 2018, England beat Uganda 50-46 also in Liverpool, a repeat of that would do nicely for The Vitality Roses.
For July’s Vitality World Cup to be a success, the tournament will rely on approximately 500 volunteers, known as pivoteers.
We had the chance to speak to two of those pivotal in keeping this Summer’s ten-day competition running smoothly.
Lois Betts and Carlie Pimlott are two university students and avid netball players.
Lois Betts: Image Credit // Conker Communications
They are from different parts of the country but in July will be coming together as part of Vitality’s Pivoteer scheme.
a ‘Pivoteer’ as "of crucial importance to the success of the world's most prestigious netball tournament." So how do Lois and Carlie feel about having being given the chance to be part of the team this Summer?
Lois, originally from Stockport, says: “I believe it will be a once in a lifetime opportunity in which I will be able to learn new skills and meet new people. I am really excited to be a part of the event.”
Lois studies Fashion Buying and Merchandising at Manchester Metropolitan University and said with the World Cup being held so close to home, it was a great opportunity: “Once I saw that the Netball World Cup were
looking for volunteers in Liverpool, I thought it would be a great opportunity to get involved in an exciting event that I may not have the chance to be a part of again.
“I have watched the World Cup previously but, this year with it being so close to home, I was inspired to be a part of it in a completely different way.”
Carlie, who hails from Sutton Coldfield and is a Civil Engineering student at Liverpool John Moores, says this year’s World Cup has the potential to be very special: “It’s hard to describe, but I think the Vitality Netball World Cup has a really special feeling about it this year - it really feels like the roses are within touching distance of the double gold medal (Commonwealth and World Cup) and I think everyone’s really excited!
Carlie Pimlott: Image Credit/Conker Communications
“It’s been so amazing seeing more and more media coverage on the sport and seeing the ripple effect of the Commonwealth gold right down to grassroots level.
“It’s such an exciting time for Netball in England and to be so involved is incredible - it doesn’t quite feel real!”
She added: “I first wanted to volunteer when I found out that it was being held in Liverpool, I moved here for university in 2017 and it felt like a once in a lifetime chance to really get involved with the action.”
England Netball was thrown into doubt towards the end of last year with concerns over funding. However, with fresh funds, England Netball has an extremely promising future beyond 2019.
Chief Executive Joanna Adams last year stated that when Vitality agreed
a new three-year deal, doubling their investment, the England team could concentrate on the future, including July’s World Cup, she told the BBC:
“People were nervous, but the full-time programme
can now continue for certain past 2019. There was pressure building up to the home World Cup - that's not a good environment to be in - but this gives us comfort.
"Tracey Neville and the England team can now concentrate on the World Cup and then on moving forward to the Commonwealth Games in 2022."
Image Credit: Vitality
Carlie and Lois will be doing slightly different roles, with applicants able to select roles that suit them best. Lois says: “My role at the Netball World Cup is Event Control Communications Team Member.
“I didn't mind which role I ended up doing; I was just happy to be part of the event. However, I believe this role is suited to me as I am organised
Carlie will be an access control team member. On the role
she said: “I wanted a role where I could get close to the action and really get stuck in.
“I’m really looking forward to getting to meet lots of people from all over the world and seeing how they’re involved in Netball.”
Both Pivoteers play netball regularly, having been introduced to the sport as children. It is both a hobby and form of exercise for Lois: “I started playing netball at school and later joined my local club, Stockport Netball Club,
when I was nine years old. However, I have recently joined the netball team at Manchester Metropolitan University after enrolling in September 2018."
Carlie added: “I was first introduced to netball by my mom aged ten - she took me along to a local U11 club and I haven’t stopped playing since. I currently play for Liverpool John Moore’s University 2nd Team and Marshalls Netball club in the local Liverpool league.”
Netball is also more than just a hobby, as Carlie says it is her ‘job’: “Netball has also always been my job; I’ve been involved in coaching for my mom’s club for the last nine years, which focuses on delivering netball to girls of all ages (seven-70 as she always says!) - between teaching U11’s the very first steps and giggling along with the back to netballers I’ve really been involved at all levels!
“I passed my umpiring C award in 2016 and have gone on to umpire the Birmingham U16 regional qualifiers- I’m looking to get onto a B award course soon.”
Carlie has experience volunteering for Netball matches before: “I was once the ball girl for U21 England VS Jamaica Netball match, which aged 12 was an incredible opportunity.
“My sister is also currently in the qualification stages for the U16 National Clubs Final and I’ve volunteered a few times on the desk scoring and timing- it’s really lovely to see her progress through the league!”
Lois also has previous volunteering experience and still volunteers when she is not at university: “I volunteer for Beechwood Cancer Care. Organising
the donated stock and distributing it to one of six local shops.”
The World Cup starts on the 12th July with tickets still available, here.
If you are attending, you may run into Carlie and Lois or one of the other hundreds of volunteers that will be working to make sure the tournament has no hiccups.
Lead Image Credit: Vitality