Commonwealth quartet back with the Blue and Gold as Team Bath resume Superleague season with Wasps visit
Team Bath Netball will look to take inspiration from the return of golden girls Eboni Beckford-Chambers and Kadeen Corbin when they resume the 2018 Vitality Superleague season with a visit to defending champions Wasps on Sunday (3pm).
Beckford-Chambers and Corbin will be back in the Blue & Gold fold, just a week after helping England to a historic title at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Chelsea Lewis and Zanele Vimbela, who represented Wales and South Africa respectively in Australia, will also be available for the televised match against a Wasps team that boast a 100 per cent record so far this season.
Anna Stembridge, Team Bath’s Head Superleague Coach, said: “We are really looking forward to facing Wasps as it will be a real test of where we are, not just after the Commonwealth break but overall.
“It feels like a long time ago that the season began but we are not even halfway through yet. Both teams have started well and it should be a really good contest.”
The netball world is buzzing after Sunday’s epic Commonwealth Games final, England stunning Australia 52-51 thanks to a last-second winner from Helen Housby, and Team Bath are hoping to channel that energy while also managing the reintroduction of Beckford-Chambers, Corbin, Lewis and Vimbela into the domestic game.
“We can’t wait to welcome them back into the Blue and Gold, we are immensely proud of all of them,” said Stembridge. “They are massive team players and have been keeping in touch with the squad throughout the Games through the WhatsApp player group.
“It is going to be a challenge for the players coming back but we are working with their national coaches to make sure it is managed correctly. For all of them the last couple of weeks will have been both physically and emotionally draining, so it is not only jetlag and travel we will have to take into account.
“We will support the players accordingly but we are confident that we have a squad around them who will step up and produce a strong showing.
“We cannot wait to see Eboni, Kadeen and their gold medals. The final was one of the most incredible games and results ever, not only for England but for international netball as a whole. It was an absolute corker of a match.
“Massive credit to Tracey Neville and the team behind the team, all of them have done an outstanding job.”
Both Stembridge and Team Bath Netball Head Coach Jess Thirlby have worked closely with many of the successful England squad over the years, with club and country, and are delighted to see them achieve their dreams.
“We have always had massive belief that this generation had the potential to be the best in the world,” said Thirlby. “There is a core group that has been on a long journey together and it has been a massively successful one.
“This gold is the culmination of so many experiences and not just the successful ones but the near-misses too. All the players have journeyed through tournaments like World Youth Cups, World Championships, other Commonwealth Games and domestic finals, both here and overseas, and those ups and downs have led them to this moment. The players have clearly been determined to learn from every experience and look at what they have achieved.”
While England were scaling unprecedented heights in Australia over the weekend, a new generation of potential stars were taking to the court in the Mike Greenwood Trophy hosted by Manchester Thunder.
The average age of the squad selected by Team Bath for the warm-up tournament was just 20, with Rachel Shaw, Mia Ritchie and Jazz Scott the only players over 21.
Hannah Passmore, Hannah Blackman, Christina Shaw and U21 captain Chartie Curtis, who will represent England U19s in Australia this summer, all made their senior debuts in Blue and Gold as Team Bath took on Thunder, Team Northumbia and benecosMavericks.
“It was a brilliant opportunity for us to get back on the court and also give experience to some of our U21 players,” said Thirlby. “We were taking on teams that were nearly full strength, so it was very pleasing to see how they performed. The aim was to be competitive in each quarter and we did just that.
“Thank you to Thunder for the invite, we always enjoy playing in the tournament and honouring the memory of Mike Greenwood.”
Team Bath have seven home games remaining in the Superleague season, starting on Friday, May 4 when they welcome Celtic Dragons to the Team Bath Arena (7.30pm). Tickets for all the matches are on sale now – click here for more information.
Team Bath Netball are sponsored by Sitec and supported by partners Mogers Drewett, Investigo and Netball South West. Centurion Chartered Financial Planners are supporting the team’s performance analysis capabilities, Viper 10 are their Sportswear Supplier and Skins provide the team with compression wear.
Pictured top are England players (from left) Beth Cobden, Eboni Beckford-Chambers, Jade Clarke, Natalie Haythornthwaite, Jodie Gibson and Kadeen Corbin returning to Heathrow Airport on Tuesday.