Incredible. That is probably the best word to describe the season that the University of St Andrews Netball Club have had in 2015/6. There have been great achievements for all the girls involved both on and off the court throughout the year and the future looks bright.
Last season saw the first year of the club’s development squad of girls, not quite in the first three teams competing in the BUCS leagues but good enough to be playing for the University. This squad saw them train on a regular basis and take part in the local Fife league. The team has continued this year and has been very impressive, having competitive fixtures in Fife, Glasgow and in tournaments across Scotland. Quite impressively, they won one fixture 75-5 and have suffered just one defeat (with scorelines like that though is it a surprise?!) and as such they will be moving up to the BUCS league next year, making it four teams for the University in the Scottish leagues.
Those sides already involved in BUCS have had great campaigns and have all shown that the club is in superb health. The 1st team maintained their position in the Scottish 1A division, coming 5th, whilst the 2nd team impressed throughout to come 2nd in their league when all was said and done. The real achievements though, were had by the 3rd team at the University, who secured back-to-back promotions. Moving into Scottish 5A on the back of a promotion last year, they topped their division this time round again and will be moving up again next season. Nine wins from 10 secured them promotion and girls finished the season with a +226 goal difference. They also made the final of the Scottish Conference Plate, going down to Edinburgh 6s 43-38 in an incredibly competitive affair.
One of the major achievements of the club this year has been their outstanding charity work. Through their running of the Sports Stripped Calendar and other work they have reverted to an old tradition of being one of the biggest fundraising clubs at the University. As things stand this year they have currently raised over £2800 and there is still more money to be counted so that total is expected to rise. That is an outstanding achievement and that money will be going to the Teenage Cancer Trust, a charity that Club President Amelia Sandbach said everyone could in the club could get behind, as I am sure the rest of us can. Bake sales outside the Vic early during the first few weeks were a big part of their fundraising total. I wonder why!
This charitable work, in addition to their fixtures, goes hand in hand with the other major aspect of the club’s work – coaching. Twice a week the Netball club sends three or four girls over to Madras to coach Netball and their presence actually facilitates the playing of the sport at the school and without them it would not be there, which is a very positive impact on the local community.
A real issue facing Netball as a whole at the moment in the Fife area is a large umpire shortage. The University club are aiming to help change this by training girls to become umpires and one of them qualified this year. Although one may not sound like a lot, it is just a step on the way to improving the situation and next year should yield even more qualified umpires. The process to become an umpire is a long and arduous one, a key reason why only one is trained so far. However, they are making a difference and in the coming years their efforts will be met with more fruitful results. Now the focus for the club turns towards next year and continuing to build on the successes of this year.
This year saw a record number of girls turn up for the give-it-a-go session during Freshers week and next year promises to be bigger and better. With four BUCS teams recruitment will be key for the club and they are currently looking for corporate sponsorship for the forthcoming seasons. With one of the girls in the first team currently playing for Switzerland, the standard is very high but all are welcome to get involved as the club is a friendly, sociable bunch. You can get in contact with the club to find out more by emailing netball@ saints-sport.com.