Young Roses win Europe Netball U17 Championship

England U17 have successfully defended their 2023 title at the Europe Netball U17 Championship in Gibraltar.

With just three members of that competition-winning side returning this time around in captain Daisy Lees, vice-captain Neve Marsden and Hannah Gibson, nine athletes won their first U17 caps on the international stage.

Centre / wing attack Lees led by example throughout, picking up three Player of the Match accolades (vs. Republic of Ireland, United Arab Emirates and Wales), with goal defence / goal keeper Zaneya Cunningham scooping the honour in the final game of the competition.

Competing at the home of the 2025 Netball World Youth Cup, for which all the team would be eligible for selection, the young Roses began their campaign on International Women’s Day with an impressive 14-81 win against the Republic of Ireland. 

Speaking afterwards a delighted Lees said: “As a team, the spirit was really high going into it – we went out on court and smashed it. We went in with a lot of nerves and that showed, but after the first couple of minutes, we settled in, stuck to task and did everything we wanted.”

On the second day of the competition, England U17 faced the challenge of back-to-back matches with United Arab Emirates (UAE) U17 and Wales U17 the opposition.

Up first, Leah Kennedy’s side built over the 60 minutes as they overcame UAE U17 with a 74-30 victory.

Reflecting, goal attack / goal shooter Gibson commented: “Our confidence grew throughout the match. We were really disciplined to build on our connections and I think we definitely showed that in our performance.”

After a short period to rest and regroup, the young Roses were back out on court to face Wales U17 and once again scored over the 70-goal mark as they ran out 79-34 winners.

“Overall, it was just a brilliant match. We all gave our all – every change was seamless, everyone was backing one another. The crowd was insane! Everyone had smiles on their faces the whole time. We were sticking to structures and they were getting rewarded by our shooters” – wing attack / centre Sascha Dale on the win vs. Wales    

With the support of family and friends in the arena and back home, including Vitality Roses Head Coach Jess Thirlby watching on, the team headed into the final day of the competition with momentum building and their unbeaten record in tact.

A closely-contested game against Scotland U17 followed but the young Roses remained calm and composed as they saw out a 34-60 win to complete a clean sweep across the competition.

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