Three teams. Two places.
Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland are set to go head-to-head to be the first two teams to qualify for the Netball World Cup 2019 when they meet at the Regional Qualifier- Europe in Perth, Scotland from 19-21 January.
With the three teams ranked 8th, 9th and 11th respectively in the INF world rankings, the tournament will be closely contested as they compete to book their place in Liverpool.
With host nations England qualifying automatically, the three teams will battle it out to secure the two qualifying places available for the International Netball Federation Europe region.
Find out more about the qualification process for the World Cup here.
Friday 19 January
Scotland v Wales 7:30pm
Saturday 20 January
Wales v Northern Ireland 3:00pm
Sunday 21 January
Scotland v Northern Ireland 12:00 noon
After finishing second (to England) at October’s Netball Europe Open Championships, Northern Ireland head into the qualifier as the highest ranked of the three teams. But as executive manager Karen Rollo explains, this is no guarantee of qualification.
“The World Cup qualifier is a massive event for us. Having narrowly missed out on the last World Cup, we know the impact this can have both on our performance opportunities and financially.
“The squad are ready and while qualification from the European region is extremely difficult with all three countries being within the top 11 rankings, I am confident the squad will deliver in Perth and be part of what will be an amazing event in Liverpool 2019.”
Despite the anticipated close nature of the tournament, Rollo is still confident that Northern Ireland can progress and successfully book their place in Liverpool.
“Above all else, our players deserve to be there; I’ve witnessed first-hand the dedication and commitment of the athletes, management team and support staff to ensure we are the best we can be”.
Full squad: Kyla Bowman, Lisa Bowman, Niamh Cooper, Michelle Drayne, Gemma Lawlor, Noleen Lennon, Michelle Magee, Lisa McCaffrey, Oonagh McCullough, Caroline O’Hanlon (C), Fionnuala Toner, Neamh Woods
The Scotland squad will feature a blend of youth and experience, which is an exciting prospect for Scottish Thistles captain Claire Brownie, who believes the team is in a good position going into the tournament.
“Our preparation going into the tournament has been the best it’s ever been.” Brownie explains. “We’re working hard to ensure we do everything possible to be ready to compete and win both our games.”
Having been in the Scotland squad that missed out on qualification for the 2011 World Cup in Singapore, Brownie knows the stakes are high and it’s going to be a tough tournament for all three teams.
“There’s no doubt it’s going to be a close tournament,” says Brownie. “All three countries deserve to be at the Netball World Cup but it will depend on which teams play their best netball on the day. The level of netball in the region has never been higher, so we have an incredibly tough weekend ahead of us, but I am confident the Thistles will qualify.”
“With the tournament being held in Liverpool we know we would get amazing Scottish support at the games, so that is an extra incentive for us to keep focused on our target of qualifying.”
Full squad: Claire Brownie (C), Lynsey Gallagher (VC), Ella Gibbons, Bethan Goodwin, Niamh McCall, Nic McCleery, Hayley Mulheron, Sam Murphy, Emily Nicholl, Jo Pettitt, Bethany Sutherland, Fiona Themann
Wales head into the qualifier buoyed after an impressive two-nil series victory over Samoa in December’s Wendy White Series in Cardiff, with Head Coach Tracey Wilcox feeling confident about the team’s chances of qualifying for the World Cup:
“These matches are must wins for us with all three countries so evenly matched we are looking forward to three closely contested test matches.”
“It is going to be a thrilling and tense couple of tests. We are confident in our abilities and have had an excellent preparation with the players well prepared to give it their all in the red dress.”
Full squad: Fern Davies, Suzy Drane (C), Bethan Dyke, Clare Jones, Kyra Jones, Nia Jones, Lateisha Kidner, Sarah Llewellyn, Kelly Morgan, Cara Lea Moseley, Eleanor Roberts, Georgia Rowe
How to follow the tournament
Regional Qualifier – Europe
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With just two years to go until the Netball World Cup gets underway, the most promising youngsters from across the globe have made their way to Gaborone, Botswana to take part in the U21 version of the tournament.
Twenty nations from five regions are competing over nine days to crown the Netball World Youth Cup champions, with New Zealand looking to retain the title they won in Scotland four years ago. It is also a momentous occasion for African netball as this is the first ever International Netball Federation (INF) tournament to be held in the continent!
The draw for the competition has pitted host nation Botswana against some illustrious opponents in the form of Jamaica and fellow African challengers, Uganda. Cook Islands and Malaysia complete Pool C. With four wins to their name, Australia are historically the most successful team in the competition and they head up Pool B along with South Africa, Barbados, Singapore and Zimbabwe. New Zealand are the headline act in Pool A where they will face Samoa, Sri Lanka and the British pairing of Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Completing the line-up in Pool D are England, Fiji, Trinidad & Tobago, Wales and Grenada.
Once this initial Pool stage is complete, the teams will be placed into groups dependent on where they finish in their respective Pool. The tournament gets underway on Saturday 8th July with the Final to be played on the afternoon of Sunday 16th July.
For a full list of results, fixtures and the remaining schedule for the 2017 Netball World Youth Cup, head the event website www.nwyc2017.com
The 2017 Netball World Youth Cup will be live streamed throughout the competition on the official NWYC YouTube, Facebook and Twitter pages or on the INF YouTube site.
The stars of the future will be on show in Gaborone later this month, with many of them hoping to force their way onto the main stage at Liverpool 2019!