Duty manager at Middlewich Leisure Centre Ben Breeze, recently sat down with founder of Cheshire Stars Netball club Ange Cope for a great interview discussing their success, plans for the future and all things Netball.
Almost 10 years on since Cheshire Stars formed as a netball club, founder Ange Cope and her colleagues could never have imagined the magnitude of progression it has made.
From four friends just looking at getting back into Netball since their childhood, they’ve now created a club that is competing on all fronts in the South Cheshire Netball League and the Cheshire Junior Netball League.
Ange said: “We all met through our previous club but we weren’t overly happy with how things were going, so we decided to develop a new club, Cheshire Stars. It started out with us having two adult teams but went to four in the space of a couple of years.
“I am so pleased with the progress we’ve made over the years and the success we have had but we are always looking to improve.
“We have now got a thriving young junior section with four teams currently but we are looking at adding two more potentially come the start of the new season which is also in September.”
It is clear to see that Cheshire Stars now firmly sits close to Ange’s heart and the past 10 years have certainly shown that, but she confirms it couldn’t have continued without the support of friends, family and the players.
She added: “We have a great committee behind us, who work extra hard behind the scenes to make the club such a success. They are all volunteers, who give up so much of their free time to support us.
“Our coaches are delivering three to four training sessions each week while competing in their designated divisions. So I think this shows tremendous commitment from everybody involved inside of the club.”
Netball’s image has continued to grow during Cheshire Stars’ time as a fully affiliated club, with the national team, England Roses claiming two gold medals since Tracey Neville’s appointment in 2015. With the addition of Phil and Gary Neville’s sister as head coach and her very impressive success, netball is continuing to gain public attraction.
Ange said: “The profile of netball is rising every day. England Netball has used social media as a great platform to really promote the sport and to make our international players accessible for the fans.
“Super league games are now selling out and teams are having to find bigger venues to accommodate the increase in fans, which I think is brilliant and inspirational for the next generation coming through.
“England winning the Commonwealth gold medal by beating one of the best countries in the sport, Australia last year was a massive turning point for the sport before we head into the World Cup this July in Liverpool.
“It is no longer Australia and NZ who are expected to win, England are right up there amongst them along with the likes of South Africa and Jamaica.
“A lot of our English players are now playing in the most competitive league in the world over in Australia, which has definitely had a massive impact on the players.”
But it wasn’t always this easy to join a team, club captain Kebriah Pardoe said: “The main thing that I would say has changed is when I was in school there was never an opportunity to join a club.
“But now in most towns, you will find at least one club who are looking for potential players. I wouldn’t say much has changed a great deal in Netball. However, it’s now widely recognised with help from the big publicity on TV and the success of the England Roses.”
While progression continues inside of Cheshire Stars, looking towards the future is always around the corner.
Ange added: “We have a three-year plan to develop the club.
“We are planning to increase the number of level one and two coaches internally at the club so our juniors are continuing to learn.
“We are in the process of developing a new website and introducing two more junior teams. We will also be looking to increase our court time at Middlewich Leisure Centre, as participation has massively increased.
“In the coming months our under 15s will be looking to re-qualify for the Regionals with the chance of players from our club being selected to represent Cheshire County Netball. This will add to the seven who have previously been selected.
“In regards to the senior section it will be welcoming a fifth team, who will start training immediately ahead of the season. On top of this, we will continue to strive to boost our Back 2 Netball sessions with the aim of forming another team.”
In addition to the clubs future aims, Kebriah has insisted she will continue to play for Cheshire Stars and has set some targets of her own.
She continued: “I’m really excited to see it grow even bigger.
“I think with more help from coaches and members that are very passionate about netball, it will means more teams and more social events, which is great for the community and players.
“I would hope that one day, we will have a junior league closer to Middlewich which, fingers crossed may happen.
“A personal target of mine is to continue playing in the top division and ensure our team remains there. Playing centre is a position that I believe is suited to me so I want to continue improving against the best players in the league.
“I would like to add, if Ange continues to run the club then, there is no doubt it will continue to be a success.”
Written by: Ben Breeze
Do you want to get involved with Netball? Attend our back to Netball sessions at Middlewich Leisure Centre! sessions run every Wednesday 7:30-8:30. The sessions are £3 or free with an everybody membership!