Academy Netball

NETBALL stars of the future were put through their paces by some of England’s top players at a Darwen school.

Former England star and coach of Manchester Thunder Tracey Neville brought Thunder players Janelle Lawson and Rachel Henry to the training camp at Darwen Aldridge Community Academy yesterday.

The event came as DACA recently launched its new netball academy, in partnership with Thunder, to add to its growing sports portfolio.

DACA already had links to Chorley FC and Darwen Cricket Club through its football and cricket academies. And Miss Neville, 36, a Commonwealth Games bronze medallist at Kuala Lumpur 1998, was impressed with the facilities at DACA.

She said: “It is lovely here and the facilities are great.

“Manchester Thunder has always been great about putting back into the community and we want to encourage every level of ability to get involved. If we can benefit as a club at the end of it that is great.”

Miss Neville, sister of former England and Manchester United footballers Gary and Phil, said netball was becoming more prominent as a sport in England.

She said: “Netball is a game every female in England has played and most have good memories of it.

“The sport has a better profile after the recent test series victory against Australia.”

Director of netball at the academy Lauren Davies said she as delighted to have the Thunder stars at the event.

She said: “It is really exciting for all netball enthusiasts in the borough.

“Girls have come from all over today, including the Ribble Valley and one from Lancaster.

“It is a great opportunity for youngsters who would previously have had to travel further.”

Ms Davies said the academy would provide new opportunities to students.

She said: “We want to develop grass roots sport as well as elite performers.

“We are providing a pathway for girls not just to play netball but to coach as well.

“We want them to play or coach at the highest level possible.”