A professional netball team is coming to Worcester following a successful joint bid by the University of Worcester and the University of Gloucestershire.
The Severn Stars is one of a number of new franchises in the Vitality Netball Superleague, announced by England Netball today.
Worcester and Gloucestershire's successful bid followed an intensive application and selection process that attracted huge interest from netball clubs and businesses throughout the UK.
Professor David Green, University of Worcester Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive, said: "We are delighted to learn that our bid was successful. Netball is the largest female participation sport in the UK and this will help give women's sport the much-needed recognition it deserves. We hope it will inspire a whole new generation of girls to get involved in sport."
Both universities have strong traditions of developing talented players. Students from both universities have been selected to represent England at this summer's World Series in New Zealand.
Worcester and Gloucestershire also both have associations with elite teams from other sports, including the Worcester Wolves British Basketball League team and the "All Golds" Rugby League Club in Gloucester.
Mick Donovan, Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor (Inclusive Sport & Educational Development) at Worcester, said: "We have been working with the team at Gloucestershire for over one year to prepare the strongest bid possible. The Severn Stars partnership boasts a wealth of talent, experience and potential from within a wide range of partners. Many people have worked hard to bring elite netball to the city and we are really looking forward to the challenge ahead."
The name derives from the river that brings the two regions together. The Severn Stars partnership will be supported by a number of associated organisations from within the two regions that include thriving university and club programmes. Significantly, the Worcester City and Hucclecote clubs have both played at the highest level outside of the superleague.
Head of School for Sport and Exercise at the University of Gloucestershire, Dr Anita Navin, has an outstanding reputation within the sport as a leading coach educator and is currently a commentator for Sky TV netball games."
"I am thrilled at the outcome and I possess an incredible passion for developing netball in England and globally," she said. "I look forward to supporting England Netball in their quest to be number one in the world and offering exceptional netball opportunities to our local cities and communities."
In the early seasons, the home games will be played at the University of Worcester Arena, and upon completion of new facilities at the University of Gloucestershire, hosting of home games will be shared.
The University of Worcester Arena has already hosted high profile netball games that have included two superleague finals and two England international games.
The first game will be played in January. The club now faces a busy schedule as they work towards building a playing and coaching team.