Severn Stars’ new Head Coach says her team will have to be on fire from the word go as they face a local derby against the reigning Superleague champions in their first match of a revolutionary new netball tournament.
Sam Bird believes this weekend’s British Fast5 All-Stars Championship, which introduces a raft of new rules that shake up the traditional netball format, is any team’s competition to win
The Severn Stars, jointly owned by the University of Worcester and University of Gloucestershire, will face the Coventry-based Wasps Netball in the first round of the competition at the O2 Arena in London on Saturday (September 23).
Superleague teams will battle it out in a series of matches and Bird says her players have been working hard to bring their best game in front of the thousands of spectators expected.
“We are really excited,” she said.
“We have drawn Wasps in our first match, so we have to be on fire from the word go. Training has gone well so far, with more to fit in before Saturday. New team members have enjoyed being with the squad and we have retained the positive training environment that we established last year and intend to keep our players working hard but enjoying representing Stars as well.”
Stars’ new signing, ex-England and Team Bath player Sam Cook, will make her debut at the tournament in defence.
Run by the Barry Hearn led promotional company Matchroom Sport, which hopes to bring the sport to the masses, the Championship will see eight five-player sides competing in a double elimination group stage for a spot in the semi-finals, with the eventual winners taking home £25,000.
Innovations include a double-point Power Play, 5-point line and 12-minute matches, and allows teams to include two global All-Star players in their squad.
“The fast5 format is new to lots of players playing in this competition in all the squads,” said Bird. “The introduction of a 5 point shot and two minute powerplay means that the game can and will change very quickly. Anyone can win the competition with a well-placed and well-timed shot.
“The fast5 competition is a one off experience for the team, but also a great chance for our players to come together right at the beginning of pre-season to work together under pressure and for our fans to get behind us at the O2 arena.”
Stars will welcome further new faces to the squad for this contest, including South Africa’s Phumza Maweni, who plays for KZN Kingdom Stars, and Maryka Holtzhausen, who plays for Free State, both in the South African Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League. They both play for the national side and have been selected to play for South Africa in the World Fast 5 series.
England Roses Eleanor Cardwell and Jodie Gibson, England Under 21 player, Iona Darroch, Laura Malcolm, Becky Oatley, Sophie Carter and Clare Elsley, who all played for Stars last season, will be back in action as part of the Stars’ Fast5 squad.
Tickets for the British Fast5 All-Stars Championship are available now from https://tickets.axs.com/shop/#/CLUB6-ded7-419f-a8b9-f4940fb251cf?skin=theo2