Excitement has been building for the British Fast5 Netball All-Stars Championship ahead of its highly-anticipated return this weekend.
A sell-out crowd at the Copper Box Arena will be treated to a shorter, more dynamic version of the traditional game which usually produces a day of electrifying netball.
With 12-minute matches, an all-star five-point line and a Golden Buzzer Power Play, this year promises to be no different.
Previous winners include Loughborough Lightning in 2017 and Wasps Netball in 2018.
Franchises finishing in the top eight of the Superleague table last season qualified for the event meaning Wasps Netball, Manchester Thunder, Team Bath, Loughborough Lightning, Saracens Mavericks, Severn Stars, Celtic Dragons and Surrey Storm will compete this Saturday.
Each squad has been boosted by the addition of their two all-star players. This means that stellar international stars from across the globe are set to feature at the event.
Vitality Rose Jo Harten returns to Loughborough Lightning for the first time since leaving the franchise eight years ago. The 30-year old has built a reputation as one of the sharpest shooters in the game and, with long bombs very much encouraged, will look to fire her side into the final.
Harten will go up against Australian Diamonds legend Erin Bell in the clash between Lightning and Thunder. Bell, who won ANZ Championships with two different sides, will rival her English counterpart in the shooting circle.
This tournament is jam-packed with further renowned all-stars including the likes of Jhaniele Fowler (Saracens Mavericks), Stacey Francis (Team Bath) and Leana De Bruin (Severn Stars).
Fast5 will also see plenty of Vitality Roses turn out for their franchises since the end of the 2019 Vitality Netball Superleague season. The likes of Rachel Dunn, Fran Williams, Yasmin Parsons, Ella Clark and Rebekah Airey among others will each be competing.
The midweek draw provided some enticing fixtures which will see some of the best players in world netball against one another.
Reigning champions Wasps take on Severn Stars in the opening game while VNSL winners Manchester Thunder go head-to-head with former victors Loughborough Lightning. The final two fixtures drawn, put Surrey Storm up against Saracens Mavericks and Team Bath against Celtic Dragons.
Across a five-hour session, the eight teams will play in a double-elimination format; two wins and the team will advance straight through to the semi-finals while two losses will result in being knocked out of the tournament. Teams that have won one and lost one of their opening matches will play a deciding match for a place in the last four.
Stars’ Nia Jones said: “I’ve never qualified before so it’s an exciting new concept for me. I love seeing interesting variations of different sports. It’s a really exciting form of the game and I love the concept. I love fast, athletic sports so it should be really fun.”
Joanna Adams, CEO of England Netball, said: “Fast5 is always a fantastic spectacle of athleticism, flair and skill, and with the ever-increasing interest in netball, we’re delighted to be working with Matchroom Sport again for the third staging of this tournament.”
Your Fast5 All-Star fixtures:
Wasps v Severn Stars
Manchester Thunder v Loughborough Lightning
Team Bath v Celtic Dragons
Surrey Storm v Saracens Mavericks
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