Grasshoppers U16 Team's National Clubs Campaign
Acutely aware that this could be our last year competing together as a squad we were aiming to ensure that 2018 would be memorable.
We are friends playing netball and unlike some of the other clubs we have not been playing together as a team for that long but between us, we possess all the right ingredients that make us special. So, with the right balance of social team bonding outings and high impact training sessions, we set about achieving our goal.
The process started with the qualifying tournament which took place in September 2018 at Shirley High School. Along with seven other u16 teams we successfully qualified to play in the London and South East Regional League all vying to represent this region at the National Finals in Nottingham.
The league matches took place once a month over a seven month period, during which we were plagued with injuries, limited training sessions; due to poor weather conditions (we train outdoors), and player availability, it felt like it just wasn’t meant to be. But, empowered by our committed and supportive parents, coach and guest coaches, we persevered.
The snow hindered our region and an important match scheduled to take place in March, when all our players were available was cancelled. The organisers announced that the final 4 matches would have to played on the same day and since there was still a huge amount of points still to be won on that day it was not clear which two teams would qualify, everything rested on that final regional feeder day. It wasn't going to be easy as L&SE region is home to a number of fantastic clubs and a vast array of talented girls but now that we were at the business end of this competition and in the running of qualifying second we were not going to waste it.
The joy of qualifying was unimaginable and still on a high from the England Roses triumphant win against the Australia Diamonds in the Commonwealth Games, when we walked into the David Ross Sports Centre on Saturday 27th April for the start of the u16’s National Finals with our new kit, we were hungry for the challenges that lay ahead.
With our bluetooth wireless speaker in tow we warmed up on the practice court before the start of our first match. But, once the klaxon sounded for the start of the centre pass 14 players fought hard for the top placing. The quality of our opposition was immense there were turnovers, strong drives, and each ball was strongly contested. Nerves were in abundance, not knowing our opponents style of play took some adjusting, but we managed to channel it and turn it into a positive - winning our first game by a landslide with our shooters scoring 46 goals in 32 minutes.
As the day progressed and we relaxed, out came our trade mark 'electric slide' routine and it was great to see our L&SE cousins, Crystal Palace NC joining in. Throughout the tournament, some results went our way and some did not. Sweat, tears, joy and disappointment were on show for all to see but the coming together of nine regions, the best 18 u16s teams in the country is something that we will treasure forever. It was an honour to have played in this competition and we are so glad that we had the opportunity to have experienced it together as Grasshoppers u16s #thesegirlscan.
"Best weekend of my life"
"I thought Nationals was a great, life enhancing experience, it taught me so much as a player"
"The play off for 9th and 10th position against Crystal Palace felt like being in the final"
"The support from the team bench - players and coaches - was amazing and really helped"
"I was really impressed with the facilities, umpiring and organisation of the whole event and the girls and parents thoroughly enjoyed the weekend"
The quote from Coach Dom made the players all put that extra effort in "If not now, then when? If not you, then who?"