Asha Francis says she is looking forward to passing on the Blue & Gold ethos to the next generation of stars after being appointed as Team Bath Netball’s new Assistant Coach.
Her key responsibility will be working with University of Bath students in British Universities & Colleges Sport [BUCS] competitions but she will work across all the Team Bath Netball programme, including the Vitality Superleague high-performance team and the development of the new Futures Performance Pathway.
Francis has first-hand experience of progressing through the ranks at Team Bath having helped the University of Bath win two national BUCS crowns as a student.
She also played for Team Bath Toucans at National League level before going on to enjoy a hugely-successful Superleague career with the Blue & Gold, captaining them to a record fifth title in 2013, and representing both England and Singapore at international level.
For the past two years Francis has combined playing with coaching Toucans, guiding them to the National Premier League 2 title this year. She has also been developing her skills on the Team Bath Netball Apprentice Coach Programme under the experienced supervision of Denise Ellis, who has worked with Team Bath and England players across all age groups during her career.
“This is an exciting opportunity to work with a great group of coaches right across a world-class netball set-up and it’s certainly one I couldn’t let pass me by,” said Francis.
“When I first started coaching a couple of years ago it was a big change as I had previously taught language in secondary school. I left that after having children and I thought coaching would give me more flexibility.
“I was worried at first that netball would take over my life with playing, training and coaching but I have loved it and found getting the best out of the players, both physically and mentally, to be a really interesting challenge.
“I have been part of the Team Bath set-up for more than a decade and I understand the ethos here. There is a family atmosphere across all the teams and we have a certain style we like to play – I have experienced that as an athlete and now I’m looking forward to passing it on as a coach.”
Francis is particularly excited about working with the student programme, a key part of the netball performance pathway. She is just one of a host of Blue & Gold stars to have combined world-class study and sport at the University of Bath, with other noted alumni including Pamela Cookey, Tamsin Greenway, Stacey Francis and Kadeen Corbin.
Current students making their mark including King Sporting Scholar Imogen Allison, a regular in the Superleague last season, and Tash Pavelin, who has been selected for next month’s British Fast5 All-Stars alongside Francis after impressing with Team Bath’s U21s.
“The netball set-up here is great for students as they don’t just have BUCS competitions but there are opportunities with Team Bath as well,” said Francis, who coached the University’s 2nd team to the BUCS Cup final in 2016 along with former Blue & Gold team-mate Claire Brownie.
“Even if they are playing for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th teams, the students all benefit from being part of the high-performance programme and there is a good progression structure in place. My aim is to strengthen that even further and help to secure as many BUCS points as possible, with all of the teams making a contribution.”
Francis will work closely with Jess Thirlby, Director of Netball at Team Bath, who said: “Asha has been and continues to be a a hugely valued member of Team Bath. To welcome her as a formal member of the wider coaching team is not only fantastic for us but for the current and potential athletes who will get to work with her.
“As a player it has always been clear that Asha has a great understanding of the game and she has begun to explore how to share that with others in her coaching in recent years to good effect and most notably with the Team Bath Premier League team.
“We are proud to have Asha on board in this more formal capacity and can’t wait to get started. For incoming students in particular it will be of huge benefit to be coached by Asha, herself a former international and Superleague captain.”
Meanwhile, Team Bath Netball are advertising for a Head of Netball for their new Academy based at the University of Exeter. The successful applicant will work as part of the extended Team Bath netball programme to manage and develop the Exeter Academy, which will form part of the Blue & Gold’s world-class Performance Pathway Programme.
To apply or for more information, visit https://goo.gl/FZ17jB.
Team Bath Netball are sponsored by Sitec, Mogers Drewett are their Education Partners, Centurion Chartered Financial Planners are supporting the team’s performance analysis capabilities, Viper 10 are their Sportswear Supplier and Skins provide the team with compression wear.