Team Bath Netball are looking to the future with great excitement after their status as the Vitality Superleague franchise for the South West of England was confirmed by England Netball for another four years.
The decision follows a rigorous tender process by England Netball, which saw Team Bath overcome strong competition from other bidders.
University of Bath Director of Sport Stephen Baddeley led a presentation to England Netball which reflected not only pride in Team Bath’s history – they have won a record five Superleague titles and produced 76 international players – but also a vision of helping the sport continue to grow and develop.
Director of Netball Jess Thirlby has been part of Team Bath throughout the Superleague era, as a player and then coach, and was part of the presentation team.
“Being named as a franchise is not a given, it’s a testament to all the hard work and effort that has gone in from the players, the support staff, the matchday teams and our volunteer support from across the region,” she said.
“We could not be happier to be named going forwards in a very competitive tender situation which shows how netball is becoming more and more popular across the nation.”
Baddeley added: “As a founder franchise with the best playing track record and matchday attendance figures in the league, we are looking forward with excitement to the 2017 season and beyond.
“Netball is growing and we are growing with it. We will be looking to build on our matchday experience for the fans and sponsors, as well as fielding a top and competitive team next year.”
Team Bath regularly achieves attendance figures of around 2,000 for their home games and the Superleague is the pinnacle of the netball offering at Team Bath, which offers a clear development pathway from youth to adult sport.
The thriving junior section currently has eight teams across a range of ages, while training camps during school holidays – overseen by Superleague players – always prove popular.
Eight senior teams compete at regional and county level, while the National Performance League (NPL) team provides potential stars of the future aged between 16 and 19 the chance to compete on the national stage.
Team Bath Netball have also forged strong grassroot links with the sport’s regional bodies and recently staged their 2016 end-of-season dinner alongside Netball South West’s Goalden Globe Awards.
Franchise Chair Sarah Mansfield said: “Netball in the South West continues to thrive and we are working hard locally to challenge on a national stage.
“Team Bath’s Superleague team is the tip of a vibrant pyramid of activity in this sport which is not only providing excellent role models for girls and women but becoming more and more attractive commercially.
“I’d like to congratulate Jess Thirlby, our Director of Netball, on this excellent result for netball, Bath and the South West.”
England Netball today announced an expansion to the Superleague, which will now have ten rather than eight teams. One of these will be a franchise based in Gloucester-Worcester, called Severn Stars, and giving Team Bath the opportunity for a West Country derby.
Coventry has also won a franchise and will join the league with a team that will sit alongside its Wasps rugby set-up, called simply Wasps. Scotland are another new franchise for the 2017 season onwards.