The Vitality Roses' Netball Europe Open squad.

The Vitality Roses kickstart their Netball Europe Open campaign in Northern Ireland on Friday afternoon.

A young squad led by England Netball Futures Head Coach Sam Bird face stiff competition in the form of Wales, Republic of Ireland and hosts Northern Ireland over the course of three days in Belfast.

The Republic of Ireland will be the first test for Bird’s side on Friday afternoon before they take on Wales on Saturday and Northern Ireland on Sunday.

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Many of this 12-strong squad are yet to experience a senior competition on the international stage and will be tested against the likes of Manchester Thunder’s Caroline O’Hanlon, who captained Northern Ireland at the Vitality Netball World Cup this summer, and Severn Stars’ Nia Jones.

Such a challenge will help in the development of these young stars and it is a challenge that Sam Bird believes her inexperienced squad can handle.

“It’s really important for our younger athletes to get exposed against senior international competition especially ahead of the Netball World Youth Cup in 2021,” said Bird.

“The opposition is very strong. They’ve got some very experienced Vitality Netball Superleague and international players. The competition is going to be really tough but that’s what we want when developing our young athletes.

“There is no fear with this group. They just want to come out and show what they can do. Every match is just an opportunity to give these girls experience against senior opposition.”

Bird’s side is made up of a vast array of talented young players who are beginning to make inroads at club netball and for their country.

Captain Yasmin Parsons and vice-captain Zara Everitt will lead the likes of promising stars Funmi Fadoju and Berri Neil through the event.

“Being in camp has been really good so far. Everyone is really excited and everyone has been on point in training. We’re all trying really hard to prepare ourselves for the games and have been getting along really well,” said Fadoju.

“You can definitely see the connections on court and off court too. Those relationships are really starting to blossom and that’s having a really positive impact on the squad,” said Neil.

The Vitality Roses will take on the Republic of Ireland in their opening game on Friday afternoon before meeting Wales and Northern Ireland.

“In that first game, we just have to go out there strong. We need to let them know that we are England and we’re going out there to give it everything,” said Fadoju.

“Each game will be a learning curve. The first game will be quite tough and we’ll have to step up. As the tournament goes on, we’ll become more familiar as a team and more familiar with what our principles are,” said Neil.

The Vitality Roses’ fixtures for Netball Europe Open are listed below:


Fixtures and timings


Friday 27 September

England v Republic of Ireland (14.00)

Antrim Forum

Saturday 28 September

Wales v England (12.00)

Antrim Forum

Sunday 29 September

Northern Ireland v England (12.00)

Antrim Forum

Keep track of the Vitality Roses’ results at the competition by visiting our Fixtures & Results page.

Netball Europe Open will be streamed on England Netball’s official Facebook page.

For this competition, four players will receive senior caps whilst the U21 players will receive their U21 caps.

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