England star looks on as Portsmouth win bronze

Portsmouth High School under-13s with England star Stacey Francis
Portsmouth High School under-13s with England star Stacey Francis
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Portsmouth High School finished third in the under-13 plate at the Girls’ Day School Trust tournament – with England star Stacey Francis looking on from the sidelines.

The Portsmouth side won bronze on their first ever visit to Condover in Shropshire.

More than 450 girls from all over the country attended the weekend, which was a huge success despite the weather.

Francis, who won bronze with England at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, was the guest of honour at the event and enjoyed the chance to meet aspiring young netballers.

The 27-year-old plays goal defence, wing defence and goalkeeper and trains with Team Bath.

She said: ‘For an athlete that very rarely steps outside for her sport, I found the weather to be completely miserable.

‘However, my experience was brilliant.

‘It was fantastic to have the opportunity to meet young players who are passionate about the game and encourage them to find a way to engage in their local Superleague franchise.

‘Talent levels were undoubtedly high and for such a young age group there were some very tall girls walking around.’

Francis, who has played at every international level since the age of 
16, was actually a latecomer to the sport.

‘I started playing netball when I was about 14 which I am told is quite late,’ she said.

‘I joined a local club that all of my school friends went to because I had a free evening and was always very active.

‘What I most enjoy about the game is I love the physical and mental challenge of trying to get the better of your opponent for 60 minutes.

‘I honestly believe in my mind that I can stop my player from touching the ball at all.’

Francis, who has 47 caps to her name, has played netball all over the world and has enjoyed the experience of playing and visiting other countries.

She said: ‘My greatest achievements are being a member of every one of the five teams that won the NSL with Team Bath and my bronze medals from the Commonwealth Games and the World Championships.

‘Due to netball being a Commonwealth sport we usually tour the Trans Tasman, South Africa and the Caribbean.

‘Some of my most memorable trips include The World Youth Championships in the Cook Islands – a phenomenal country with such natural beauty that I would never have taken the time to visit.

‘The Commonwealth Games in Delhi 2010 was my absolute best netballing experience, I loved the culture.

‘I am big into sightseeing and loved the World Championships in Singapore in 2011.

‘I love how modern and clean Singapore was combined with their unique culture.’

Francis has a busy lifestyle trying to fit in her day job with her netball but she manages to fit in around 20 hours of training a week.

The training is varied and includes strength and conditioning, fitness, technical sessions and video analysis.