A Derbyshire teenager is set to take on the world in her country’s colours at a new form of netball.
Swanwick’s Laura Bailey has played the full form of the sport since she was at primary school.
And despite only taking up NETS – a shortened version – in March of this year, she’s now preparing for her international debut.
NETS is a version of netball that is played inside high tensioned netted courts, where the ball doesn’t go out of play – making it fast paced and energetic.
There are some slightly modified rules and there isboth a six-a- side and seven-a-side format of NETS.
The Ecclesbourne School student will fly to Australia for the sport’s World Championships in Brisbane in October.
She’s no stranger to sporting success.
Bailey has already represented the East Midlands in netball, Derbyshire in running, qualified for the English Schools Cross-Country Championships, swam for Rykneld Synchronised Swimming Club in Clay Cross and played football for Notts Girls and Ladies Under 15 champions Allestree Woodlands FC.
But despite her undoubted talent in mainstream sports, it’s a new sport that is giving Bailey what her dad calls a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity.
Nigel Bailey said: “We’re just so proud of her.
“We’re a sporty family, but this is amazing.
“It’s the chance of a lifetime, and she’s always wanted to go to Australia.”
Bailey went for trials in March and so impressed the England team selectors that she became the youngest member of the NETS World Championship squad.
Preparations are now well underway, with Bailey taking on an intense training schedule.
“She does sport every day,” said Nigel.
“There’s training for the England team every fortnight, either in London or Bristol, so there’s a lot of travelling involved.”
Along with growing accustomed to a new set of rules for netball, Bailey has to get used to a different role in the shortened version of the sport.
Her dad explained: “Although she’s not a shooter in normal netball, she can shoot in NETS, so she’s out practising 200 to 250 shots every day to improve her shooting.”
The costs for the World Championships trip have to be picked up by the individual players, and the Baileys are working hard to try and raise the necessary funds.
They’re doing car boot sales and running raffles, and Laura herself has set up an online crowdfunding website at gofundme.com/szve7s
She said: “I need to raise £3,000 to cover the cost of flights, accommodation and kit.
“This is a chance of a lifetime that I don’t want to miss.”
NETS was initially championed by the Indoor Netball Association, a voluntary organisation promoting grassroots participation and managing teams representing England internationally.
The INA then merged with Netball England, who officially recognised NETS as a form of the sport and now promote it.