With just two weeks to go to the start of the Netball World Cup 2023, the first overseas team has touched down in Cape Town.
England was the first visiting team to arrive in South Africa today, ready for the global tournament which will take place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from 28 July to 6 August.
The England Roses have competed at every edition of the tournament since its inception in 1963 with a best result of second place in 1975. In addition, they have collected six bronze medals – their most recent one coming on home soil in Liverpool four years ago.
But, with the team having claimed Commonwealth Games gold back in 2018, England coach Jess Thirlby is eager for her side to take a step up and make it all the way to the Netball World Cup final this time around.
“The global game has moved on since the last World Cup and now more than ever, the margins between the top nations are at their narrowest,” she said.
“Tournament netball and its conditions are like no other league in the world and it will be important to call upon those varying styles of play within the team in order to help move us closer to breaking into a World Cup final for the first time,” said Thirlby.
“The [England] team are highly ambitious, hugely supportive of each other and I trust together we will do whatever we can to perform at our best in Cape Town.”
England have been grouped with Malawi, Scotland and Barbados in Pool B for the Netball World Cup 2023. After their first match against Barbados on 28 July, they face Malawi on 29 July and Scotland a day later.
“With home nation Scotland, the African Malawi Queens and the Caribbean style in Barbados we have a true test of playing diversity to prepare for,” said Thirlby.
“We know these teams will give us a great challenge physically and tactically, especially Scotland and Malawi who look more determined than ever to rise up the world rankings further and we underestimate no one on our World Cup journey.
“We played Malawi in Birmingham and they are known for their ball retention and have quality in their shooting circle as well as a dynamic defensive style.
“Scotland have been more exposed to international competition of late and will be stronger for that as they head to Cape Town.
“Barbados are full of flair and are fearless in how they play, are always accurate at goal with long-range specialists,” added the coach, who represented England as a player from 1991 to 2006 and competed at the 2002 Commonwealth Games.
As for contesting a first Netball World Cup on African soil in Cape Town, Thirlby added: “We know and love Cape Town and it holds special memories for me having led the team to victory on what was my first Roses series back in Autumn 2019. “We always feel welcome and we spent time in Stellenbosch last year at a training camp which was great.
“We know Cape Town and South Africa will put on an incredible event, celebrating the diversity of World Netball and we are really looking forward to the challenge.”
Details on tickets and travel packages and more information are all available on the official tournament website (www.nwc2023.org.za) with a range of tickets and packages still available.
Photo by Brenton Geach/Gallo Images/Netball World Cup