England’s netball team will have the benefit of a beefed-up coaching team as they prepare to defend their Commonwealth Games title in Birmingham next year.
The team will have three new coaches as former England stars Sonia Mkoloma and Olivia Murphy join the team along with former New Zealand player Liana Leota. The trio will work together under head coach Jess Thirlby.
Speaking about her new team, Thirlby said: “I feel privileged that these three have taken this leap,” adding: “They all bring something different, but we are aligned with where we want to go.”
Mkoloma, one of England’s most capped players with 123 appearances over 16 years, will be the full time assistant coach, having previously done some part-time work with the Roses since 2019. Murphy, the assistant coach at Loughborough Lightning, and Seven Stars player-coach Leota, join as the team’s technical coaches.
Assessing the potential strength of the England squad with the current Superleague season halfway through, Thirlby said: “There’s some great young talent out there, and there are players who are in their 11th or 12th season and still able to sustain performance levels.” She suggested up to 20 players could make a strong case for being part of the final 12.
The news comes as England netball has announced a renewal of its sponsorship deal with Harrod Sport, adding another year to an association that now stretches back two decades.
A key element of the association is that it does not just focus on the national team, but also provides equipment and clothing to youngsters to help nurture the sport.
Emphasising the importance of this part of the partnership, Harrod Sport’s director of sports sales and marketing Kevin Utton said the firm is “delighted” to extend the deal.
He added: “Not only are they one of the best netball teams in the world, but they also work just as hard at inspiring the future generation and encourage a wider demographic to get into sport and keep active.”
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