Goal in sight for Jaguars
WITH the World Netball Championships in New Zealand in November and the England squad playing in an international test series in London in May, the sport is entering a thrilling phase for enthusiasts. On the local scene, one team of youngsters is blazing
WITH the World Netball Championships in New Zealand in November and the England squad playing in an international test series in London in May, the sport is entering a thrilling phase for enthusiasts. On the local scene, one team of youngsters is
blazing a trail as it takes the junior circuit by storm. LESLEY INNES looks at the talented Jaguars, which could be producing future players for the world netball court.
THEY may not be playing on the national circuit or going for Olympic gold, but Ely's young netball stars are proving a formidable force.
The speed and agility of the aptly-named Jaguars has proved too good for the competition as players notch up an unbroken record in the junior eastern league.
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With an average age of just 13, the girls have shown skills two years above their age and a team spirit second to none.
"They are very professional on the court," said their coach, Sarah Lawson, a former Cambridgeshire county and regional netball player. "They have played matches where the defence has not even touched the ball.
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"I have swapped them into different positions and changed around the shooting team and they just get on with it. Their team spirit is tremendous and they are such a versatile squad. They are in a different league with a skill level two years ahead of their age.
"We have got a great group of kids and we couldn't have a better group of mums and dads supporting them. I don't have to worry about how the girls will get to the matches; all I have to do is coach them and umpire them."
Jaguars was launched 20 years ago as a senior team for players aged 16 plus, some of whom have gone on to trial for the England squad.
In 2001 it was decided that a junior team should be set up to feed through to the older side.
With the help of a Lottery Awards for All grant of £4,600 the team was launched and newly-qualified coach, Sarah, took them under her wing.
"I had played county netball for about nine years and wanted to give something back," said Sarah, who also coaches netball at The Leys School in Cambridge and a
'Mums Back to Netball' squad near Newmarket.
"Ten of the original juniors, some who have been with us since they were 10, are still playing for the senior team. It's all about giving them quality coaching in a small group. A lot of our seniors reach a good level."
Now Sarah is hoping that a Cambridge and District League can be launched to allow her junior Jaguars to move on as a team when they reach 16.
She also hopes a sponsor can be found to help fund new kit for the players which will cost about £500.
Jaguars' junior team practises every alternate Tuesday at Ely's King's School sports hall between 6.15pm and 7.30pm and has been competing in the St Ivo league at St Ives on alternate Mondays.
In the summer term the team hopes to compete in the summer league on Thursday evenings at Milton.
Anyone interested in finding out more information or offering sponsorship help can contact Sarah on 01638 507024.
ENGLAND'S netball squad is ranked fourth in the world and was placed third at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia, last year.
The game was first played in England in 1895, but there were no standard rules with both nine-a-side and five-a-side versions of the game.
During an Australian tour of England in 1957, discussions took place concerning standardising the rules which led to the launch of The International Federation of Women's Basketball and Netball three years later.
World Championship tournaments were launched in Eastbourne in 1963 and have since been held every four years in countries across the world.
In 1995 netball became a recognised Olympic sport.