Hard work pays off as Megan celebrates GB dream

Megan Wallace
Megan Wallace
Have your say

Yasmin Parsons did it. Ashleigh Dekker did it. Now a fresh talent is bidding to rise from our courts to the international stage, writes Helen Dunning.

Megan Wallace, 17, is celebrating selection for the 2018 Great Britain Colleges squad.

It represents the latest step in her aspirations of earning an England call-up – and another feather in the cap of the south coast scene.

Parsons and Dekker graduated from Fareham Fireflys and Jellies, respectively.

The duo now play for National Premier League outfit Weston Park Blades.

Meanwhile, former Crofton School pupil Parsons represents Surrey Storm in the Vitality Superleague.

And Dekker, once of Portsmouth Grammar School but now studying at the University of Birmingham, is in the under-21 ranks of their midlands rivals Wasps Netball.

Wallace began her netball playing days at Harrison Primary School in Fareham, aged nine.

She was picked for the school team and led parents Claire and Iain Wallace – both former county swimmers themselves – to look for a club.

Fareham Fireflys, founded by Ros Bellamy, was chosen.

Here Wallace was given her first taste of league competition.

She played for Fireflys in the Gosport & Fareham League and then the All About Netball League – standing out at an early age.

Wallace moved on to Cams Hill School, Fareham – and once again her flare for netball was embraced by the PE department.

Lee Holden, a prolific player herself, became her coach and continue to guide the talent forward.

Under the stewardship of Holden, Cams Hill School joined the adult section of the All About Netball League.

And the youngsters held their own in division one – challenging more experienced teams for their position at the summit.

Alongside this, Wallace also played for Gosport & Fareham Netball Association (GFNA) outfit Fareham Vixens.

The Vixens were a family affair – with three mums and their daughters forming a large part of the team.

Helen Keet, founder of the All About Netball League, said: ‘It was during this time I noticed Wallace as a player.

‘It was great news to me when I was told the Vixens were not continuing to play in Gosport as I wanted to recruit her for my own team after we had been promoted!

‘The great news was shortlived, however, as after a conversation with Wallace I knew she was destined for bigger things.

‘She wanted a chance at a higher level, so I introduced her Shooting Stars.

‘There she would have the chance at a county and regional team selection.

‘Although I have kept in close contact and borrow her at any opportunity!

‘I recently added Megan to my umpiring gang delivering a tournament for England Netball in La Manga, alongside stars Eboni Beckford-Chambers and Mikki Austin.’

Wallace began playing at Stars under head coach Jane Jewell.

One of the biggest changes was her position. Having spent most of her time playing goal-attack, Wallace was moved to mid-court.

There were many deciding factors in this – her height was one.

Wallace is not a tall player, so an imposing defender at senior level would hamper her scoring opportunities.

But key was the former Fireflys talent’s speed and agility.

The former leaves most opponents wondering where she is and the latter gives her an edge against those quick enough to keep up

Wallace also has an uncanny reading of the game and picks up the slack effortlessly if a team member is struggling.

As someone who has spent so much time in the final third, the teenager is also able to place the ball into the circle accurately.

All these attributes made it an easy decision for Jewell to include her in the Hampshire squad for Shooting Stars.

And on occasion, Wallace has featured for the club’s regional outfit.

As the starlet progressed to Itchen College, tutors Kelly Brown and Shirley Eastwood continued to guide her development.

In December, as a representative of Itchen, she attended trials in Nottingham for the Association of Colleges (AoC) squad.

Anna Wilton, who is returning from serious injury, and fellow Shooting Stars talent Chloe Batch also attended the trials for the Great Britain representative squad.

Wallace’s mum, Claire, said: ‘Megan was nervous at the start of trials but she settled in and caught the eye of the selectors.

‘Although, she still had to check the number on her leg when it was called as she couldn’t believe it!’

Wallace is part of a 22-strong squad, which will play fixtures in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales across five weekends, starting on January 13-14.

He dad, Iain, added: ‘Megan has been a naturally-talented sportswoman from a young age.

‘We knew she would achieve her dreams if she worked hard enough.

‘The endless hours of taxiing her around to training and matches has been worth every minute and we are incredibly proud of her.’

Wallace follows in the footsteps of fellow Cams Hill School player Amy Fripp, who was selected for the squad last season.

Fripp began her sporting life as a competitive gymnast, which gave her great core stability when she switched to the netball court.

Having played at school and college, Fripp joined Swan Netball Club where she played at Hampshire and regional level.

She now attends St Mary’s University in Twickenham, where she represents the first team.