Loughborough Lightning’s first home game takes place on 3rd November against Team Northumbria, 6pm start. It will be played in the Sir David Wallace Sports Hall at Loughborough University, which enjoyed sell out crowds of 1000+ last season. The players welcome support from the local community and are hoping to attract significant crowds to their home games throughout the season.
Loughborough Lightning, which is backed and managed by Loughborough University, finished third in the Superleague playoffs last season, losing out to second place, Mavericks and league winners Team Bath, who they will face at home on 24th November.
Photo shows England Netball’s Karen Rothery (2nd left) and the Co-operative’s Liz Matkin (2nd right) with three players from the Netball Superleague, Lisa Ferneyhough of Northern Thunder (left), Jo Binns of TeamBath (centre) and Ama Agbeze of Loughborough Lightning (right)
The 18-strong Loughborough Lightning squad includes two members of the current senior England Netball squad, one member of the Wales senior squad and three members of the England under 21s team.
Now Lightning has a now got its first full-time coach in the form of Lightning and England Netball Captain, Olivia Murphy, they are looking to challenge strongly for the NSL title. Rosie Port, Lightning’s successful coach from the last two seasons, will continue as Head Coach whilst the influential Murphy is still producing world class performances on court as a player. Murphy’s coaching goal will be to drive forwards a new dynamic elite netball programme based at the University.
Murphy, a Loughborough graduate, has been recruited as part of the University’s strategic objective to increase the number of full-time head coaches employed at Britain’s top sporting educational institution.
After graduating in 1997 with a degree in economics, Murphy played for England 95 times and captained the side from 2000 until her retirement after the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, where England won the bronze medal. The 30-year-old also won bronze medals at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur and the 1999 World Championships.
Murphy said, “I am really looking forward to working with the talented athletes that we have at Loughborough. I have been working with them already (as an assistant coach) but this will be a more hands-on day-to-day basis.
“We are aiming to make the final this year after just missing out the past two seasons. We want to get over our semi-final heartache!
She continued, “Of course, ideally we want to win the Superleague, but if every single player improves and reaches as much of their potential as they can, then we would have done a good job.”
The team includes seven current Loughborough University students – Hannah Reid, Kara Luck, Kate Murphy, Natasha Hampshire, Lauren Doyle, Katy Rose and Sarah Jane O’Sullivan - as well as five Loughborough Graduates.
Andy Borrie, Head of Performance Sport at Loughborough University said, “Netball is one of Loughborough University’s performance sports and the Lightning squad will be challenging for the NSL title this season. Our games will showcase some of Britain’s finest female athletes fighting it out on the court at great intensity.”
He continued, “It is this and the average strike rate of 80 - 100 goals an hour that we hope will continue to attract a new audience in addition to the one million women who enjoy the sport already.
Netball is the most popular sport played by British women and last year became the first women’s sport to get a regular slot on television. This season, Superleague matches will be screened on Sky Sports 2 and 3 on Thursdays and Fridays following games played at the weekend. Coverage begins on 1st November in an agreement which runs through until the competition’s Grand Final in April 2008.
The Co-operative has been announced as the sponsor for this season’s Superleague, which has been renamed accordingly as The Co-operative Netball Superleague.
“The Netball Superleague represents an ideal opportunity for us to interact with our core customers – women – and extends our involvement with elite sport, which has been so successful during the Rugby League season,” says Liz Matkin, Sponsorship Manager for The Co-operative. “This gives us a great opportunity to promote some of our Co-operative messages, such as healthy lifestyles, as well as developing regionally-focused activity and schools initiatives.
“Many netball clubs – not just those taking part in The Co-operative Superleague – are at the heart of their local communities and therefore provide a perfect fit with the services we offer.”
Attending games is an excellent evening out for the whole family with something for children and adults alike, male or female, simply wanting to enjoy something new and take pleasure in an exciting spectacle of British athletes. Many schools attended games last season as they provide a great experience for children which can inspire and enthuse them in to sport.
At £5 a ticket for adults and £3 for concessions, the game works out as a bargain priced night out for all. Tickets for all Loughborough Lightning home games are available in advance on the ticket hotline, Tel: 01509 226250, or through the website: www.loughboroughlightning.com or on the door at the Sir David Wallace Sports Hall.
Picture by Alex Broadway/SWpix.com