Sophie Drakeford Lewis for Team England 2022

Team England made an impressive start to their Commonwealth Games 2022 campaign in Birmingham today, after securing a 74-22 win over Trinidad and Tobago.

All 12 players stepped out on court and made their B2022 debut, with this being the very first Commonwealth Games competition for five players – Sophie Drakeford-Lewis, Layla Guscoth, Imogen Allison, Laura Malcolm and Eleanor Cardwell.

After the game, we spoke to some of the England players on the game and their initial reactions, here’s what they said…

Sophie Drakeford-Lewis on…

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…her Commonwealth Games debut

“It felt absolutely surreal, when we walked in you just got goosebumps at the crowd with them all here to support us – it’s absolutely amazing. And to just get out there in the second half, it was great to settle the nerves and to build our confidence going into the next few group games.”

…Jess Thirlby’s last words of wisdom before her Commonwealth Games debut

“Just embrace it – go out there and have some fun!”

…the opening game against Trinidad and Tobago

“Trinidad and Tobago always come in hard, they’re a really physical team and they are really patient with ball in hand so we knew that we needed to go out there and put out a winning performance.

“Whilst on the scoresheet it looks like we won by quite a lot of goals, there’s stuff we still need to work on moving towards the next few games.”

…the atmosphere in the arena

“It was amazing! We were sat on the benches and singing along with the chants from the crowd which was great fun.

“We just want to build the atmosphere within the group too, like we are such a connected group and want to do well for each other so we’re going to be building on that moving into the next rounds.”

Captain Natalie Metcalf on…

…the first win of the competition

“It was just amazing – I had chills walking out to do the coin toss! It was so exciting to be able to share it with the fans, especially with the past few years and the pandemic.

“Just to be able to share netball with the country and for us to make our mark and start the campaign today was just so exciting – I’m full of excitement!”

…the home crowd in Birmingham

“The crowd were amazing! It sounds cliché but they genuinely were our eighth player and they were brilliant.

“We got to celebrate with them after the game and we’re just so thankful that we get to have them here sat with our families in the crowd as well.”

…on the team’s performance against Trinidad and Tobago

“They [Trinidad and Tobago] definitely asked questions of us in the game. For us, it’s just being able to move the ball around well and now tidying up some of the basics and keeping building.

“It was game one of a huge tournament so it’s very early days for us. We’ll go back and look at the video and see where we can make improvements going into tomorrow’s game.”

…on getting all 12 players out on court, including five debutants

“It was brilliant! I said to them before the game to just enjoy it, look out for your family in the crowd, give someone a wave, give someone a smile and take it all in.

“I thought our debutants were incredible as were the rest of the team and I think for the coaches to get all 12 girls out there in game one was such a special moment.”

Team England face Malawi in their second game of the competition on Saturday 30 July with first centre pass at 2pm (UK time). Here’s a guide to the competition, including how you can follow all the action.

If you’re new to our sport and want to have a go yourself, we have programmes for everyone aged 5 to 95 from Bee Netball for children, to Back to Netball for those returning, to Walking Netball, a slower version of the game we love. Through the netball finder on our homepage, simply select play and enter your postcode and you’ll find a variety of sessions in your area.

Loved being in the crowd or watching from home? There’s more live netball coming your way in England this October – book tickets now.

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