Razia Quashie of the Vitality Roses.

Since making her debut in 2018, Razia Quashie has cemented herself as one of the most powerful young defenders in the country.

The Vitality Rose has already got nine international appearances under her belt after coming on against New Zealand in the Vitality Netball Nations Cup in January.

Quashie will be hoping to add more caps to her collection in England’s three remaining games of the series in Birmingham and London.

“I’ve always excelled in defence”

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Quashie was born on the south Caribbean islands of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and, like many; she did a range of sports during her childhood before choosing netball as her main sport.

She credits her mother for introducing her to netball as trips to the local court to watch her matches led to Quashie joining in.

“I’ve always been a sporty child and always wanted to be outdoors, getting active. I did everything from kickboxing to athletics before finally choosing netball as my sport,” she said.

“I got into netball after seeing my mum playing at the local court. She would take me to all of her netball games, put me in a bib and allow me to shoot. If I wasn’t exposed to it at such a young age, I wouldn’t be playing it right now.”

That early exposure has definitely paid off with Quashie being a valuable member of the Vitality Roses and Vitality Netball Superleague team Saracens Mavericks.

It is no surprise that the powerful goal keeper, who has a talent for crucial interceptions in key moments of the game, was named Players’ Player of the Season at Mavericks in 2019.

However, it might be a surprise to many to hear that Quashie started her career outside of the defensive third.

“I actually played the shooting position up until sixth form for my school but since then I’ve always played at goal keeper and goal defence,” she explained.

“After that, I never saw any reason to move, I’ve always excelled in defence”

“I just enjoyed playing netball”

As a youngster, Quashie never thought she would end up representing her country on the court, focusing on her enjoyment of the sport over anything. In the end, it was her PE teacher and form tutor that encouraged her to trial and enter into the pathway.

“My PE teacher and form tutor was the one that put me up for county trials. As a child, I never really took anything too seriously. I played because I loved being active and loved playing sport in general. I just enjoyed playing netball and that’s why I continued to play it,” said Quashie.

“She told me to attend trials and give it a go. She was probably my first influence; putting me into the pathway and seeing me excel all the way through to the Vitality Roses. If she hadn’t encouraged me to go to trials, I don’t know if I’d still be doing netball now.”

As well as her mother and teacher, Quashie also mentions Geva Mentor as being an inspiration throughout her career.

“Being in defence, I’ve always looked up to Geva Mentor,” she said.

“She’s an amazing player and I’ve always tried to imitate her role at the back. She has amazing footwork and that is something that I’ve tried to imitate and model myself on.”

“Netball allowed me to be who I am”

Despite her success in the Vitality Roses squad, winning her first senior cap aged 21 in 2018 during the Sunshine Series against Jamaica, Quashie’s netball career started quite late.

“When I started playing at the back, I was already 16 or 17 and this is when I did trials for the Regional Performance Academy.

“After three months in the academy, I was selected to trial for the U19s and I ended up going to Jamaica with them. This led to me being picked up for U21s and I was selected for the World Youth Cup through the programme. Since 2017, I’ve been in the Vitality Roses programme.”

Quashie still credits her love of playing netball for her enjoyment of the sport and is grateful for the opportunities she has had since joining the programme.

These opportunities, however, were never something that Quashie thought she would experience.

“When I first started playing netball, I absolutely did not think that I would be at this stage. It was never something that I planned to do. It was always the love of the sport that kept me playing. Netball allowed me to be who I am and I have met some really good people through the sport.

“I never had a long-term goal in netball; it was always in education, to get a degree and graduate. I took a year out from the Vitality Roses in 2018 to be a Future and concentrate on getting my degree.

“Now I’ve done that, I’m back in the Vitality Roses programme and I’m starting a Master’s alongside netball. At no point did I ever think I would reach this far but I’m happy to be here.”

Read our other Where It All Began instalments including; Halimat Adio, Eleanor Cardwell, Amy Carter, Jade ClarkeLaura Malcolm, Nat Panagarry, Yasmin Parsons and Fran Williams.

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By Bethan Clargo.

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