Sport

Northern Thunder director of netball Tracey Neville wants cash injection after securing first-ever netball Superleague title

By Barrie White – Sports News Editor

Northern Thunder director of netball Tracey Neville is hoping that her side’s Superleague title win will kick-start a huge investment for the team.

Thunder edged out rivals Surrey Storm 57-55 in the final of the Superleague Showdown in Dagenham, Essex, last weekend after thrashing fierce rivals Hertfordshire Mavericks 57-33 in the semi-final 24 hours earlier.

Neville, who was appointed to the job in October last year, believes that Thunder’s first ever Netball Superleague title should give the club vital funds to ease financial pressures on the players.

“My dream is to see these girls start to reap benefits from sport and hopefully, in the near future, they do that,” said the 35-year-old.

“We’re an amateur sport – these girls don’t get paid to play. The franchise has to constantly try and be commercial and get sponsorship.

“A lot of athletes who are with England get support with their funding, but you’re not going to make a profit and it’s not enough for you live on.

“We have to pay for our own training facilities but all that will be sorted moving into next year if we hopefully get that commercial interest.

“We have an import over here in Janelle Lawson, but our exact words to her when we approached her to come over were ‘you’re not going to make a profit’.

“Everyone saw how great the footage was on Sky and commercially for us, it’ll give us that little bit of backing to take us forward and everyone knows that we can’t go forward unless we have the money to do it.”

Neville, who admitted celebrating her side’s victory into the small hours, felt her team sealed their fantastic victory by sticking to a game-plan based on their own strengths.

She says this was her side’s weakness in the past, and expects to take this emphasis on what her own side is capable of when they defend their title next year.

“We were just phenomenal. I had every confidence in our team, every confidence that they could win,” said Neville.

“The thing that we’ve had over the last couple of weeks, particularly against Surrey Storm, is that we’ve not stuck to task and the game plan, and they’ve played a little bit individually.

“Northern Thunder is about team ethic, team building and team cohesion and coming into this, it was a big game for us because we’d never won a play-off game.

“Sometimes the focus can be too much on the win and the team that you’re playing, rather than particular aspects of the game with regard to what we need to combat the situations.

“That, for me, is absolutely massive for Northern Thunder and it’s definitely something that we’re looking to take into next year.”

Neville, only in her second coaching role – she also coached Team Northumbria – is revelling in her current role, despite never believing she would move into that side of the game.

The former-England player does have aspirations to coach at international level, but for now is happy to learn from those already in place.

She said: “Do I want to be England coach? Yeah. But I’ve got so much to learn in the sport, and so much development to do.

“Maybe in the future, it might be an aspiration but I’m definitely not ready for the job and I still want to learn from the great coaches I’m with at the moment.

“If someone had asked me two years ago, I didn’t want to be a Superleague coach, but now I’ve fallen into the role and these last two years, even at Team Northumbria, have just been completely amazing for me.” 

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