Funmi Fadoju and Ella Bowen have risen to the challenge after being named as England U17 captain and vice-captain for Netball Europe.
The Young Roses, led by Head Coach Victoria Burgess and Assistant Coach Sheonah Forbes, will face Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Emirates in Huddersfield from the 1st – 3rd March.
And although the leadership roles came as a shock, particularly to Ella who is returning from nine months out injured, they’ve taken it in their stride and are excited for the opportunity.
Funmi said: “It’s an amazing honour. When they sent the selection email out and I had a ‘c’ next to my name, I didn’t know what it meant to begin with!
“As captain and vice-captain, there’s a little bit of added pressure.
“On court we have to encourage everyone and also focus on our game, making sure we push the team on and get interceptions so it lifts everyone’s spirits.
“You can never let the team go quiet for a single second.”
Ella: “I was so shocked to even be in the team because I’ve just come back from being out injured for nine months.
“To get into the team and then be named vice-captain, I was like “what?!” and screamed when I found out!
“Myself and Funmi have both been in the Academy since last year and work in defence together so we get on quite well.
“I think on court you’ve always got it in the back of your mind that you’ve got to keep encouraging the team.
“It’s the little things, like high fives, and bringing the team together.
“I enjoy it though because it’s good experience for the future.”
The U17s recently completed an intense three-day camp in Loughborough (20th – 22nd February).
Funmi said: “Training’s been going quite well. We’ve all been working hard to prepare for Netball Europe.
“We’ve been going over techniques to improve and work on, and overall we’ve shown great improvement and our performance has definitely got better.”
Ella said: “We’ve been doing set structures and what we’re going to put into practice at Netball Europe.
“I think in training it shows that we’ve all got a lot closer compared to normal camps.
“Everyone’s so excited and looking forward to Netball Europe.”
As well as working hard on court, the team were tested off the court with an Apprentice-style challenge.
Funmi explained: “First we were put into groups and then we were given the task to make a chair out of balloons and we were given points for three different things.
“First was our actual presentation – we had to give a marketing speech about why the chair was so amazing.
“The second thing was the actual chair – it had to have arm rests, which was hard enough, and you had to be able to sit on it for 30 seconds without your legs touching the floor.
“The third thing was the name of the balloon chair – ours was blow me up!”
Ella added: “To get extra balloons to make your chair, you had to do things like sing a song or say an interesting fact – it was just a lot of fun!”
With spirits high amongst the squad, it’s set to be a fantastic competition this weekend.
Bella Baylis (Mavericks), Rosie Bartlett (Bath), Ella Bowen (VC) (Manchester Thunder), Olufunmilayo Fadoju (C) (London Pulse), Ellie Harding (Surrey Storm), Molly Hole (Bath), Berri Neil (Manchester Thunder), Emma Rayner (Manchester Thunder), Grace Rimmer (Manchester Thunder), Yasmin Roebuck (Manchester Thunder), Stacey Tankoua (Manchester Thunder) and Emma Thacker (Surrey Storm)
The squad will be led by Head Coach Victoria Burgess and Assistant Coach Sheonah Forbes.
Friday 1st March: Wales v England, 5pm
Saturday 2nd March: England v Northern Ireland, 10am
Saturday 2nd March: Emirates v England, 7pm
Sunday 3rd March: England v Scotland, 1pm