Army Inter Services Netball 2020
The Inter Service Netball Championships have long been dominated by the Army.

Inter Services Netball: Who can beat the Army?

Army Inter Services Netball 2020
The Inter Service Netball Championships have long been dominated by the Army.

The Inter Services Netball Championships will be broadcast live on BFBS for the very first time, but the history of netball in the military goes back many years.

The Army have long dominated the sport at Inter Services level where they have held on to the trophy since 2017, and the girls in red are once again coming into this year's tournament as the heavy favourites.

But that doesn't mean the Army aren't unbeatable, however, but the question remains: Who can beat the Army?

Well, the Army have been beaten at the Inter Services before as recently as 2016, where the Navy caused a major upset to win the Inter Services title for the first time in 23 years.

The question remains whether the Navy can replicate their 2016 success and challenge the Army this year.

The RAF, who will be hosting this year's tournament at RAF Cosford, also puts forward a formidable team every year for the Inter Services, where last year they found themselves in an exciting battle with the Navy drawing 46-46, but they were, however, not able to overcome the strong depth from within the Army team.

The Army can rely on the experience of their civilian head coach, Shelley Copeland, who formally coached the England under-21s. Now the Army head coach, Copeland now has the task of continuing the Army's tradition of winning success at the Inter Services. 

Speaking to BFBS last year, 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."

The Army also has former England international and Head Coach for super league side Team Bath, Jo Vann, under their arsenal as assistant head coach.

The 2023 Inter Services netball championships will take place at RAF Cosford on 8-10 March, where it will be broadcast LIVE on the Forces News YouTube channel and serving personnel can watch on BFBS TV.

Find out more on how you can follow the Netball action here.

Watch: BFBS caught up with the Army team during the off season as they prepare for their Inter Services title defence.

Key Players

Dee Bolakoro – Army 

A former Super League player and a Fijian International, Dee Bolakoro is one of the most seasoned players on the court. With experience playing in the Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL) and an appearance for Fiji at the 2019 Vitality Netball World Cup, Bolakoro will be key for the Army if they want to retain their Inter Services title. 

Ellie Nawale – Army

Another intake from the Fiji national team, Nawale also has bags of international experience as well as in the Superleague for the Celtic Dragons. Nawale recently helped the Adjutant General's Corps to the Army Inter Corps title early in the season. 

Kiani Pay – Navy

The Captain of the Navy Netball Team, Kiani Pay is a multi-event athlete who also competes in athletics. Pay was nominated for the Navy Sportswoman of the Year award in 2022. 

Amy Howell – Army

A former Saracens Mavericks under-21 player in the Superleague, Amy is deployed across the back of the court either as goal defence (GD) or goalkeeper (GK).

Did you know?

The Armed Forces has been at the forefront of introducing men into the game of Netball with the Army introducing a men's team in 2021

There has also been efforts to bring in mixed categories, with the Army holding a mixed Inter Corps netball tournament last year and the Navy more recently holding its second Royal Navy Eastern Region mixed netball tournament.

Long regarded as a sport for women, there are now 20 clubs with established men's and mixed teams in England, with up to 20,000 men now actively participating in the sport. 

As someone who plays netball every week, I am delighted that we'll be live streaming the open competition at this year's inter services Netball. 

Finally, a sport that I'm commentating on that I've actually played! 

Seriously though, it's about time we showcased this incredibly exciting, dynamic, fast and physical sport to the forces audience – I am thrilled for all the players and coaching staff involved as well as their family and friends who can't make it in person. 

It is such an amazing game, I'm convinced a few people watching for the first time will be new fans.

In the open competition in particular, the Army have been dominant. 

The Royal Navy were winners in 2016 – their first title in 20 years – but since then it has been all red. 

Having played – and learnt a lot – during my time at RAF Akrotiri, can the Royal Air Force pull one out the bag? 

They are hosting after all – at RAF Cosford – so tune in and prepare to be dazzled by netball!

Cath Brazier, Deputy Sports Editor, BFBS Sport

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