Severn Stars Netball can confirm that player Liana Leota will be leaving the franchise after three years.

Leota joined the Club for the 2019/20 season, and the franchise would like to thank her for the contribution she has made during her time with Stars and wish her all the best with her future endeavours.

Leota had previously played in her native New Zealand for numerous clubs in the ANZ Championship and, having moved to the UK, for Manchester Thunder in the Vitality Netball Superleague before joining Stars. She represented her country at international level, winning gold with the Silver Ferns at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and silver in 2014. The mid-courter, who was appointed as a Vitality Roses Technical Coach last year, has captained the Stars senior side ever since her arrival.

Alongside her training, Leota made a great contribution to the franchise region by delivering outreach camps to youngsters looking to improve their netball skills during school holidays.

“I have loved my time at Stars and the franchise has welcomed myself and my family with open arms,” said Leota. “I embedded myself in the franchise and met some amazing people who I will miss. We created a netball family. I’m very sad to be leaving but I leave with some great memories and amazing friendships.

“I enjoyed most being able to be a part of a relatively new franchise when I first joined. They were still learning and finding their feet and so was I.  Melissa created a great culture, a sense of family at Stars that I loved being a part of. Also, all the challenges we have faced throughout the three years I was there made for many learning opportunities and definitely made me grow as a player and a person.”

The Club, which has been a joint franchise since its launch in 2017, will be taken forward solely by the University of Worcester after co-owner University of Gloucestershire announced its withdrawal at the end of the 2022 season.

Mick Donovan, Head of the School of Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Worcester, said: “Stars has been privileged to have someone of Liana’s experience captaining the side and we would like to thank her for the hard work she has put in both on the court and off of it.  She has made a considerable contribution in the last three seasons. Her enthusiasm and dedication has been second to none, setting a great example to up and coming VNSL players and the Talent Pathway squads. In her role as captain, other players have certainly benefited from her netball knowledge and experience at the highest levels of her sport. We wish her every success in what she does next.”

Stars continues to look to recruit a new Head Coach to guide the senior team forward for the 2022-23 season after Melissa Bessell announced she is stepping down from the role and returning to New Zealand for personal reasons.

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Photo by Andrew Taylor