Civilians and Services prove top combination

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Linda Harris has saluted the role of civilian players in the continued emergence of United Services.

A lieutenant commander in the Royal Navy, Harris founded the club in 2012 to provide a competitive outlet for military personnel on home turf.

And it is now thriving, with four teams currently playing in the Gosport & Fareham League.

Harris is delighted with the way the club has grown – since entering their first team in division two in 2012.

But she acknowledges it would not be possible without the help of the civilian team members, who keep the club alive while their military personnel are on active duty.

‘Our main purpose is to support military personnel to compete in local sports leagues,’ said Harris.

‘Military personnel are often sent on short-notice operations and deployments, so cannot sustain the commitment required from a team in a local league.

‘At the moment, we have players deployed on ships at sea and operations around the world.

‘But when they come back they can still compete in the Gosport & Fareham League because of the support from their civilian team members.’

Alongside United Services teams in other sports, such as football, rugby, hockey and cricket, netball is clearly proving popular.

‘We currently have four teams in the Gosport & Fareham League – United Services, United Services Pinks, United Services Centurions and United Services Sultans,’ added Harris.

‘Each United Services team has a core of civilian members that sustain the side so that its military players can deploy.

‘We are a diverse club with members from all three armed forces.

‘We even have a number of Fijian ladies from the Royal Navy and the Army’s Fijian community!’

United Services and United Services Pinks are in division three.

Pinks are sitting in third spot, having won seven of their 11 games.

United Services have struggled with numbers at times and are bottom – yet to win a game.

Team manager Rebecca Williams is certain they will recover next season, though, as she recruits more players for the team.

United Services Centurions hold seventh in division six – after gaining promotion last season – and United Services Sultans sit fourth in the tier below.

Harris has also acknowledged the backing of the Royal Navy Netball Association.

They provide a player development pathway that encourages female participation in sport and is based on inclusivity.

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