Posted 11th May 2011

Netballer prepares for Namibia expedition

Team Bath netballer Jo Binns is swapping the netball court for a 19-day expedition along one of the Africa’s most rugged and challenging coastlines.

The University of Bath Sport & Exercise Science graduate and former England midcourt player is a member of a 12-strong team tackling the 400km trek along Namibia’s Skeleton Coast.

It is believed the expedition will be the first to tackle the trek unsupported, without the assistance of a support team in vehicles or on camels. Jo is the youngest member of the team.

The expedition will take the team across the Namib Desert, where temperatures soar to 35 C during the day and drop to -5 C at night. The team will carry everything they need for their trek on their own backs and will walk for eight hours each day and then spend five hours each evening pumping salt water from the sea to drink.

Jo, who is raising money for Combat Stress during the walk, has featured in all four of team’s Netball Superleague title winning teams. She played for the team this season up to the home game against Northern Thunder in March, but since then has been coaching and preparing for the Namibian trek.

She said she will be on tenterhooks in Namibia to find out whether the team can capture a third successive title and a fifth title overall.

“I won’t know how the team are doing, and that’s going to be really tough,” she said. “As soon as I get off the desert at the end of the expedition I’ll be straight on the internet to see how we did.”

Jo has been in the right place to prepare for the trek – she has been taking advice from Team Bath’s expert nutritionists and physiologists to help ready herself for the challenge.

She admits to having something of a passion for Africa and has already taken part in the netball development programmes in Botswana, Ethiopia, Lesotho and South Africa. But her Namibia jaunt will be somewhat different.

“I’m somewhere between nervous and excited,” she said. “When you go to something like a World Championships you feel comfortable and well prepared because you’ve been playing netball for years. You know what to expect. This is a complete unknown, which is a bit terrifying.

“I wanted to do this challenge because it’s a unique opportunity to go to one of the most remote places in the world. There’s no real chance of seeing anyone outside the team when we’re walking.”

Jo, who coached the Team Bath Toucans netball team this season, has been working for England Netball and the University of Bath as regional Excel coach for the south west.

When she returns from Namibia she will is joining the British Army as an Officer Cadet and will undergo training at Sandhurst. As part of her degree, Jo spent a year on an undergraduate work placement as a Second Lieutenant with the British Army with 9 Supply Regiment Royal Logistics Corp in Hullavington, Wiltshire. For the 18 months she has been a Detachment Commander with the Wiltshire Army Cadet Force based at Colerne in Wiltshire.

The trek gets underway on Thursday 19 May.

Find out more information about the Skeleton Coast trek here. You can support Jo via her Just Giving page.

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