Two students from the University of Worcester are celebrating selection to represent their country on the international stage.
Jodie Gibson is part of the England Netball squad as they embark on a number of major tournaments over the autumn, while Iona Darroch has been selected as Vice-Captain of the England U21 squad looking to defend its title at the Netball Europe Under 21 championships.
Both students have, for the past two years, also played for Superleague netball franchise, the Severn Stars, which the University of Worcester jointly owns.
Jodie, who was part of the England Roses side that took a historic Gold medal at the Commonwealth Games, will once again be in the squad when it faces some of the best teams in the world at the latest Netball Quad series event in New Zealand and Australia.
The Quad Series, which will run from September 15th to September 21st, involves England, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
"It is always an honour to open the selection email and see your name amongst the athletes selected to represent England," said Jodie, 25, of Lower Wick, who is going into the third year of a Sports Studies degree. "I am extremely grateful for every opportunity I get to wear the red dress and, following our recent Commonwealth Games success, I am so excited for all the upcoming series with the England Roses."
The following month, Jodie travels with England to Kingston to face world number four Jamaica in the three-match Sunshine Series, with matches on October 12th, 14th and 16th.
Finally, she has been named as Vice-Captain of the squad defending its Fast5 World Netball Series title in Melbourne on October 27 and 28, when it will face top netball sides New Zealand, Malawi, South Africa, Australia and Jamaica in the five-a-side version of the game.
Iona, who is going into the third year of an Illustration degree at the University of Worcester, will be heading out to Belfast, Northern Ireland, to compete for England Roses Under 21s in the Netball Europe contest, which runs from October 5th to October 7th.
She was in the Bronze medal-winning Netball World Youth Cup team last summer.
"I'm very excited to be selected as Vice-Captain and I'm looking forward to playing with friends that have been part of the U21s squad before and also welcoming new players into the group," said the 20-year-old, of Handforth, Cheshire. "It's a great opportunity for us to see what we can achieve as a team and execute some strong performances. We will be playing for gold and aiming to defend England's title and I definitely believe this is something we can achieve with this squad."
Now part of the Roses full-time programme since August, a more intensive programme designed to prepare players for full international status, Iona will continue to combine elite netball alongside her studies.
"It's been a juggling act combining my university studies with training, but the University has been a great support over the last two years and has helped me to stay on top of my studies and compete in netball," she added. "This year will look different for me, being part of the Roses full-time programme, but the University staff are very understanding and I'm looking forward to working with them again to try and perform in both the Roses programme and my university course."