Today (02/03/21), we celebrate the birthday of Layla Guscoth as the Vitality Rose turns 29!
The Vitality Netball World Cup 2019 bronze medallist made her return to the international stage in January, starting all three tests at goal defence in the Vitality Netball Legends Series as England beat the international Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) All Stars.
It has been an amazing start to 2021 on the court for Layla as she aims to secure a place next year at her first Commonwealth Games taking place in her home city at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre (NEC).
Discussing her ambitions for the future with Zara Buck on Netball Natter, she said: “I’d really like to do Commonwealth (Games) and the World Cup after that. I’d also like to win a title with (Team) Bath.”
“In my second Superleague season, I won with (Saracens) Mavericks and I just thought it was a thing that happened like ‘oh cool and we’ll do this again next year’ and then the next nine years I haven’t won anything so I’d really like to win something with Bath, that would be really cool.”
The former Adelaide Thunderbirds player, has recently been celebrated by many for her remarkable efforts off the court, particularly in 2020.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began to take hold of the world, she swapped her life with the Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) club to resume working as a doctor at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.
Restricted by the terms of her visa, it was difficult to secure medical work in Australia so when the severity of the virus became apparent she heroically stepped on to the UK’s frontline to help combat the outbreak.
Being a doctor, Layla was acutely aware of the extent to her injury at the 2019 Vitality Netball World Cup where she ruptured her Achilles in the second match against Scotland.
It was an arduous road to recovery that she completed while navigating the coronavirus crisis in 2020 as she headed back to Australia later in the year to gain some invaluable court time in the SSN.
Layla explained how she managed everything last year: “It’s been a rollercoaster I think, I think in a way I’ve learned a lot about myself and things that I think are important to me,” she said.
“There were moments that were really difficult and probably the thing that I actually found the most challenging out of all of it was my Achilles and return to play because I found that that often had to take a bit of a back seat with everything else that was going on in the world. It’s obviously something that’s still so important to you and something that you want to get right.
“So out of everything that was the thing that I struggled the most with and not getting physio and not being able to do my rehab. The other things were really difficult but I kind of felt like everyone was in it together and so going to work especially in that first wave, I felt part of a community of people just kind of getting on with it.
“It was great to play some netball with Super Netball and I felt like everyone was really invested in making that happen as well. So it feels like it’s been five years in one, there have been so many different phases of the year.”
In order to continue to progress in her medical career, Layla elected to make a permanent move back to these shores as she left the Thunderbirds after two years to re-join Team Bath where was based from 2016-2018.
The words and images do all the talking.
Thank you. 💙
— Sky Sports Netball (@SkyNetball) February 12, 2021
She will enjoy two VNSL seasons with the Blue and Gold before hopefully taking to court in front of that home crowd in Birmingham for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
“I try not to get excited about things in the far, far future but especially around lockdown a lot my running was around the arena where the Commonwealth Games are gonna be and that was like my daily motivation,” she said.
“I was like ‘come on you want to be there in 2022, run harder’ so I think it will be really cool like I love Birmingham, it’s my hometown I’ve got a really strong affinity to it and the stadium’s amazing, I think it’ll just be such a cool event and I just really wanna be there.”
Prior to her injury, Layla had established herself as one of the best defenders in the country as she landed a place on the 2018 VNSL All Star VII and was a deserved selection for the Vitality Netball World Cup 2019 squad the following year.
Her tournament was cut short but she’s now back in the red dress and back playing domestically so it should be an exciting build-up to 2022 for the Oxford University graduate.