Friday, 17 October 2014
Netball fever is sweeping through Worcester again – ticket sales for this December’s international fixture between England and Malawi at the University of Worcester Arena have broken the 1,000 barrier.
The fixture will be the second time that the University Arena has hosted the national team – a sell-out crowd watched them beat South Africa to claim a 3-0 series win in September 2013 – and the venue has also become home to the sport’s domestic Superleague final, hosting the showpiece event in 2014 and 2013.
England’s game against the Malawians will again be the third fixture in a three-match series, and England Head Coach, Anna Mayes, says that she and her team are looking forward to returning to the venue.
“We are delighted to be heading back to Worcester for our December fixture against Malawi,” she explains. “The passion and support we receive from our fans in that area is phenomenal and it really inspires the team to deliver on the court.
“The Malawi ‘Queens’ will bring an entertaining style to the series and we expect a tough challenge from our visitors, but it is one we are determined to overcome in Worcester.
“Our previous visits to the University Arena have been laden with success and we look forward to our attempt to continue this fabulous run of form. The supporters act as our eighth player and we can’t wait to see a sell-out crowd unite in red with us this Christmas.”
The other games in the series will take place at Liverpool’s Echo Arena and London’s Copper Box, which was purpose-built for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
University Arena manager, April White, says it is testament to both the facility and the local support that the venue continues to attract high-profile international fixtures.
“The first major event staged at the University Arena was the 2013 Netball Superleague final,” she explains. “Since then, the feedback and the level of interest we have had in netball events have been extremely positive, so we are delighted to be welcoming the England team back in December.
“We are fully expecting a sell-out crowd to get behind England – just as they did against South Africa last year – and we are looking forward to what will be another memorable occasion.”
The University Arena’s selection for international and high-profile domestic fixtures is just one of the features of the University’s rapidly-growing netball programme, which has flourished in recent years.
The University’s first and second teams both secured promotion from their respective leagues last season, and the exceptional facilities on offer at the University Arena has led to Worcester building on its reputation as a perfect destination for some of the region’s top young players.
The University’s Director of Netball, Michelle Morgan, will soon fly to the USA to coach at a prestigious international tournament, while she is also involved with plans to bring a Superleague franchise to Worcester in the coming years.
The University also works closely with community clubs, with Worcester Netball Club’s junior and senior teams using the University Arena as a training base, and the next generation of coaches are also thriving at Worcester – last year, 19 students were supported through their England Netball Level Two coaching course.
Michelle says: “The fact that the University Arena has again been selected to host an international fixture – and that the game is being so well supported by local fans – speaks volumes about the potential for the sport in Worcester.
“As a university, we are attracting terrific young players who want to study and play here, and our teams are going from strength to strength. The University has established a real reputation as a centre of excellence for basketball in the last few years, and we are thrilled that the same commitment is being shown to offer real opportunities for people interested in netball.”
England face Malawi at the University Arena on December 20, at 3.15pm. For further details and ticket information, visit www.englandnetball.co.uk.