Five Yorkshire Jets players have been called up to England squads for two international tours, heightening disbelief that the club have been refused a Superleague licence for next season.
Imogen Allison and Jess Shaw will be heading to Australia with one section of the Under-21s and National Academy squad while Rosie Harris, Claudia Heath and Hannah Gorman are part of the same set-up flying to Jamaica. Their selections follow the decision by England Netball not to grant the Jets a licence, despite the expansion of the league from eight teams to 10. The sport’s governing body informed the club that the decision was taken due to concerns over the club’s lack of a major backer and the inadequate infrastructure in place. The contracts for the teams in next year’s competition last for four years, so the Jets, who won only one league match last season, are unlikely to rejoin the top table until 2021 at the earliest.
The England selection announcement underlines the Jets’ well-established reputation for nurturing and developing promising young players, making the decision to reject the club’s application all the more controversial. Given the club’s current position, these players will have to move to further their careers if the decision to reject their application is not overturned.
Coach Anna Carter was perplexed at the treatment of the club by England Netball. She said: “We’ve had little support from the governing body. Do we draw a line under it or do we reapply?’’ The chair of the team, Mariana Pexton, added her disappointment. “Not having a Superleague franchise for Yorkshire, given all that has been achieved, seems like throwing away a huge opportunity and is a setback for netball and women’s sport in the region.”
A petition has been set up on Change.org calling for the team to be reinstated in Superleague. “Get netball brought back to Yorkshire’’ has garnered over 1,100 signatures, underlining the depth of support that the team enjoys.
England Netball’s statement on Monday said that it will “continue to work with Jets and the wider Yorkshire netball community to ensure talented players and coaches have the opportunity to develop and excel.” They also pledged to work with the Jets “and other unsuccessful applicants to create a foundation that will allow them to join the league in a stronger position in the future, should expansion be possible.’’
Pam Hoyle, chair of Yorkshire Netball, said that she was “deeply upset’’ and “shocked’’ by the decision. She said that Yorkshire Netball are working with the Jets “to try and ensure we continue to provide high-quality coaching to the future stars of our sport to ensure they get the support they need to achieve success.’’ She also promised to make her feelings known to England Netball about the potential impact of the decision “on behalf of the region.’’
Featured image: Thomas Gadd Photography