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An open letter from Vitality Rose Natalie Haythornthwaite

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 26: Natalie Haythornthwaite of England in action during the Vitality Netball Nations Cup 2020 match between Vitality Roses and South Africa SPAR Proteas at Copper Box Arena on January 26, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images for England Netball)

Vitality Roses captain Natalie Haythornthwaite writes an open letter for Sky Netball saluting the heroes of this country and thanking everyone for playing their part.

To the wonderful people of Britain,

With everything that is currently going on in the world, I just wanted to take some time to say ‘Hi’, to reflect a little on how life is evolving and to thank you all for playing your part.

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It has been several weeks since netball activity in the UK was suspended to ensure the health and safety of the Netball Family.

The ever-growing number of netballers throughout the UK have been unable to train and compete for their teams. The widely popular Walking Netball, Back to Netball and Bee Netball set ups have joined the local netball leagues that would usually be taking place across the country. Every week they are being hugely missed.

As I write, the Vitality Netball Superleague should have just completed Round Seven and fans throughout the UK are missing their chance to watch and support their favourite netball teams in live action.

The reality is the coronavirus pandemic has put a hold on all things, netball and life as we all know it.

It has been a huge wave of emotions for all during this turbulent time, so much is still unknown as we come to terms with the effects it will have on people and their loved ones. We are all worried and anxious about what the world may look like after all this.

A lot has changed since social distancing guidelines came into place; no team training, no group workouts, no netball courts, it is not our usual way of living.

One thing we do have is team work. Our ability to work with our communities and one another to try and beat this. In this uncertain situation that we currently find ourselves in, it couldn’t be more important.

Last year the netball world came together at the Vitality Netball World Cup 2019 in Liverpool. Netballers, volunteers, fans and families from across the world were united in a celebration of the amazing sport we love to be a part of.

Now, and even more importantly, we turn our cheers, our support and our love to the heroes of the country who are the real champions.

To the doctors, the nurses and everyone working in healthcare fighting day and night to assist those in need. To the delivery drivers providing life necessities. To the supermarket attendants for keeping us fuelled, and to everyone else doing their part to tackle this pandemic, I applaud you.

I’ve seen and heard so many amazing stories during this isolation period.

People are learning new skills, working on their shooting practice, teaching themselves to play guitar, trying out new recipes, or even learning to speak another language – and I think it’s amazing!

Gratitude is something I have really been thinking more about over the last 18 months.

In the midst of the uncertainty, one thing I am certainly grateful for is the opportunity to connect and reconnect with family and those I perhaps hadn’t been able to talk to as regularly with being caught up in “day to day life”.

I will try to cherish this time and reflect back with thanks when everything regarding netball and life gets back on track. Right now, nobody knows when that might be and that is frustrating and perhaps a little scary too.

I cannot wait to get back out there on the court with my team and play netball again. I cannot wait to see fans filling stadiums, to see netballers all over the UK showing off their new skills on the court, and to see how happy everyone is to be back out playing our great game when it is safe to do so.

So keep practising those new skills, keep challenging your household to shooting competitions if you can, and keep positive. We will be back out there, all together, doing what we love again hopefully in the not too distant future.

Best wishes,

Natalie Haythornthwaite

Vitality Roses captain

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