Netball

Army Netball team prepare for Inter Services defence

The Army netball senior squad have gathered in Aldershot to begin preparations to defend their Inter Services title, a trophy they have held since 2017.

With a challenging season ahead, the Army have spent the off-season bolstering their netball squad on and off the court. 

Former England under-21 coach Shelley Copland is a civilian but knows the military netball scene well, but now as Army head coach she hopes to build a strong team to mount a title-winning defence at the Inter Services. 

She said: "With the Army Netball Team, they are better than what we've seen previously, and the other teams are biting at their ankles.

"So, they really want to win the Inter Services the next time, so we've got a lot of work to do to make sure that they do get there.

She said she plans "to build on everything that we've done in training, so put all those things that we've taught them and then to put it into practice and make sure they are fit and stronger than any of our opposition".

Assistant Coach Major Jo Vann has a wealth of experience as a former England skipper and coach.

Having balanced her Army career alongside the role of head coach for Super League side Team Bath, she hopes to share her on-court expertise with the Army squad. 

She said: "It's incredibly rewarding. I feel incredibly privileged to have had the opportunity to work with Team Bath and to have the time to do that alongside my Army career.

"So, to be back in this environment a few years later and to help the progress and to give back to the sport is really rewarding."

Captain Chloe Merrien is one of the players benefiting from Vann's coaching. The nurse from Bulford believes her expertise is exactly what the team needs. 

She said: "Just having her knowledge, her expertise on court, is just fab. 

"Even the way that she has clearly designed the training session, its pre-thought, its stop and starting, it's inclusive, it's really good."

The team will tour America and Canada in the coming weeks before they play international teams, including Scotland and Ireland, which they hope will serve as great preparation before their Inter Services campaign in March.