England will be looking to retain their U21 Netball Europe crown when the latest edition of the tournament gets underway on Friday 4th October at the University of Worcester Arena.
Three exhilarating days of netball will bring together some of the best young players in the United Kingdom as England battle it out for a gold medal.
England U21 Head Coach Karen Greig has selected a young, talented side in preparation for their title defence.
The 12-strong squad, captained by Manchester Thunder’s Hannah Williams, will look to get off to a winning start against Northern Ireland on Friday evening.
“I’m nervous for the first game but if we all go out and play for each other then we will hopefully be successful,” said goal attack Grace Mills.
“The tournament has come around quite quickly but we’ve been gelling as a team so well. We are ready, completely prepared and so excited to get started.”
Greig’s side face stiff competition in the form of Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland. Following their opening match, they will take on Wales on Saturday before concluding their tournament against Scotland on Sunday afternoon.
“It’s going to be tough, it’s going to be hard. Every international competition like this is going to be tough but we’re ready for it,” said captain Williams.
“We’re experienced in the fact that we’ve all trained together now. The team is really familiar with each other and we’re looking to go out there, smash it and hopefully come back with the gold.
Ten of the athletes selected are part of the U21 long squad working towards the World Youth Cup in 2021, while Mills and Megan Thorne were recently named in the Roses Academy squad for the 2019/20 season.
Competitions such as U21 Netball Europe can help in the development of these players and expose them to competitive international netball.
“As a squad, it’s a great opportunity to put ourselves out there against all the other countries and compare where we are at and see where we can improve,” said Wasps Netball’s Ruth Hughes.
“It’s just another stepping stone towards the Netball World Youth Cup. We want to take the opportunity to play together at a competitive level in preparation for 2021.”
England are hosting the tournament for the first time in years and will benefit from home support at the University of Worcester Arena this weekend.
“It’s always exciting playing for England, no matter where you are, but it’s nice to have it on home soil. It makes you feel so proud and just emphasises why you put all the effort in and why you train so hard,” said vice-captain Alice Harvey.
“It’s always an honour to put on that England dress so there is definitely a lot of excitement in camp at the moment.”
The full competition schedule is as follows:
Fixtures and timings
Friday 4 October
Scotland v Wales (17.00)
England v Northern Ireland (19.00)
Saturday 5 October
Northern Ireland v Scotland (16.00)
Wales v England (18.00)
Sunday 6 October
Northern Ireland v Wales (10.00)
England v Scotland (12.00)
Award presentation (13.45)
You can get your tickets to support England at U21 Netball Europe in Worcester this weekend here.