Commonwealth Gold will change England Netball forever

At 5.24am UK time on 15 April 2018, England held its breath as Helen Housby prepared to shoot for goal with the score at 51-all in the netball final at Gold Coast 2018.

So much was at stake in that moment. If England’s goal shooter had missed, her team may not have got another opportunity to claim the gold medal.

Australia might have gone ahead in extra time and never let England draw level. Imagine how Housby would be feeling now if she missed that chance.

Thankfully for everyone who supports our island nation, the 23-year-old had trained for years for that moment. She was ready, and so were her teammates.

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What the England Roses achieved by beating Australia in the Commonwealth Games netball final cannot be understated. It is the biggest moment in English netball history and it will change the sport forever.

It continues a sequence of success in women’s team sports: England won the Rugby World Cup 2014, England were third in the football World Cup in 2015, Great Britain won hockey gold at Rio 2016 and England Women won the Cricket World Cup in 2017.

All of those successes encouraged more women to play the sports. According to Sport England’s Active People Survey, weekly participation in rugby rose from 15,000 in 2014 to 26,000 in 2016. In the same time period, 29,000 more women took up football, taking the figure to 1.84 million participants overall.

We await the next Active People Survey to discover the exact numbers of new female hockey and cricket players but, considering the sharp increase in interest in both sports, anything less than a significant increase in participation would be very surprising.

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Now netball has its moment. There will be social media buzz, interviews, articles, television specials and, most importantly, more women wanting to take up the sport.

The lives of the England players and coaching staff will change. They will be lavished with praise and endorsements because of their success.

They deserve all of it. And they will have the chance of even more success when the Netball World Cup comes to Liverpool in July 2019. Their adoring fans cannot wait.

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