WASPS netball’s Fran Williams believes England will thrive off some ‘crazy’ support, when they go for Commonwealth Games gold next year.
This week, marks one year until the 2022 games get under way in Birmingham and Williams, capped 16 times, believes home backing can take Head Coach Jess Thirlby’s team onto new heights.
The 23-year-old, who was born in Richmond and went to school in Reading, has become a crucial part of the Roses team in recent years, making the step up from being captain of the under-21s.
Williams was selected as the youngest player in the 2019 Vitality Netball World Cup squad, where she made several appearances and won the first medal of her international career.
Since Thirlby's appointment, Williams’ impact on the squad has gone from strength-to-strength, with the youngster making the squads for the South Africa Series in 2019 and the Vitality Netball Nations Cup in January 2020. At a training camp with her national teammates, Williams said: “The home support will give us a major boost.
📖 History makers
🏅 Major honour winners
🌠 Up-and-coming stars @JessThirlby has named 24 players in the 2021/22 Vitality Roses programme and seven athletes in the Roses Futures programme 🌹
— England Netball (@EnglandNetball) May 11, 2021
“I know all the girls love playing with fans there and our netball fans are crazily supportive.
“They love getting involved, they always turn up in masses and it is just great to know that netball family is there.
“I know they’ll be there and large in Birmingham and we can use that energy.
“It will come with extra pressure, but I know the squad won’t shy away from that.”
Williams made her Vitality Roses debut in late-2018, following the historic gold medal win in Gold Coast earlier that year.
Impressive form saw her then selected in England’s squad for the 2019 World Cup in Liverpool, where the Roses achieved a bronze medal.
The profile of the sport skyrocketed after both tournaments, and Williams knows the importance of how a successful home tournament could take the sport onto new heights.
“Those performances have made a massive, massive difference. It is easy to forget that now.” added Williams, whose performances on the court have helped to attract 160,000 women to play netball or more netball following the World Cup in 2019 in Liverpool, with 125,000 women having now also returned to the sport through England Netball’s highly successful Back to Netball programme.
— Francesca Williams (@fwills11) October 14, 2020
“As someone who was at home watching in 2018 up early in the morning on my sofa, I know the feeling it gave to all of us, players, fans, everyone connected with netball in this country.
“It also gave us belief we could beat those top teams.
“I think doing this again could elevate the sport further 100 per cent. It is one thing to win once, but to replicate that success will take real mental toughness.
“But this a special group. The diversity in the way we play, and the way we get on so well on and off the court, I think shows in our performance.
“It is super exciting to be a part of, and I think other teams out there will fear that. You never know what kind of England team you are going to face, because of the adaptability within our squad.”
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