The Co-operative Netball Superleague is England’s leading domestic competition, and comprises eight franchise-based teams, seven from around the English regions and an invitational side from Wales, to provide week in, week out elite competition for the leading netballers from those countries. The Glasgow based franchise, as yet unnamed, will be invited on a similar basis to the Welsh team (Celtic Dragons) and will feature Scottish internationals at senior and U21 level as they build towards the Commonwealth Games in 2014.
“We are delighted to include this new franchise in the Co-operative Netball Superleague from next season,” said Paul Clark, England Netball’s Chief Executive, “since it will bring new competitive challenges and commercial expertise to the competition. The opportunity the franchise has to use Superleague to build towards the Commonwealth Games in 2014 can only be good for netball as a whole, and will help us see the 2014 Games as almost a “home” event! With the 2007-8 season reaching a climax with the Grand Final this weekend, it is a great time to look forward to next season, and I know that the players involved in the competition will relish the chance to take on their Scottish neighbours in competition next season.”
The league, which runs from October to April, provides regular high-level competitive opportunities for elite athletes of all ages on a regular basis, and the benefits have already been seen with England’s netballers taking bronze at the 2006 Commonwealth Games and moving up to third in the world after a win over then reigning World Champions New Zealand in May 2007. The league is televised on a weekly basis by Sky Sports as part of a three year agreement which started in 2007, and also has a significant impact at grass roots levels, with franchises working closely with local communities and schools to encourage increased netball participation.
“The Co-operative Netball Superleague will provide our players with a sterner competitive challenge, facing English and overseas athletes on a week to week basis,” says Brian McKelvie of Netball Scotland, “and this exposure to different playing styles and more experienced internationals can only benefit future Scottish teams as we build towards 2014. We are delighted to be included in the league and look forward to our first game with relish.”
Scottish players have already experienced the Co-operative Netball Superleague, with captain Lesley MacDonald and Clare Cooper participating as overseas players for Team Northumbria during the past two seasons.
“In order to become increasingly competitive in the world arena, Scottish netballers need exposure to more experienced internationals, from whom they can learn and develop,” continued McKelvie, “and the new franchise’s involvement will provide our players with just this challenge as well as helping to develop our administrative and technical support capabilities. I know that Lesley and Clare have enjoyed their time with Northumbria immensely, and look forward to seeing even more Scottish internationals taking part in the competition in the years to come.”
“This is a very exciting time for Netball Scotland: as a direct result of this announcement, we will be advertising for a full time national coach who will overall responsibility for the Superleague programme. Further details will be made available shortly through the Netball Scotland website.”
For more information about the Co-operative Netball Superleague, please visit www.englandnetball.co.uk.