Jelly leave rivals shaking

The Jelly Babies and Tots teams
The Jelly Babies and Tots teams
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A sense of pride encompasses coach Julie Osborne every time her Jelly outfits take to court.

And with the roll the Portsmouth Junior League club is currently on, she has every reason to be delighted with the progress being made by her young guns.

Since the turn of the year, the successful outfit have celebrated league wins, an expansion in its numbers and player call-ups to representative sides.

Meanwhile, Sophie Allen and Ashleigh Dekker not only enjoyed being selected for the South Region squad but also went on trial before making the cut for the National Talent League’s Team South.

This has meant both girls have lined up against the likes of Team Bath and Celtic Dragons in numerous exhibition matches.

Fourteen-year-old Dekker was also asked to attend England under-17 screening but, unfortunately, wasn’t successful on this occasion.

Six of Dekker’s club-mates were, however, selected for the under-14/16 county academy, with Jelly well-represented in the 20-player squad.

These players have been involved in continual training and screening and more recently Alice Cheshire and Issy Stancliffe were selected from hundreds of players at the Counties Festival to attend the South Region Player Development Programme.

Both Cheshire and Stancliffe were successful in their attempts last month and were among 15 selected out of 100 to attend last weekend’s South Region screening.

Added to this, there was also success in the Portsmouth League as the Jelly Babies team, with an average age of 14, were crowned division two champions.

This led to another team being formed – Jelly Tots – leaving Osborne with her work cut out but highly impressed by what she has witnessed so far.

‘The Babies’ rise to division one has been difficult but the girls are getting used to playing harder, faster and stronger netball and are demonstrating their skill, ability and fitness in toughly-contested matches,’ said Osborne.

‘And with the expansion of the club, it was decided to enter another Jelly team in the league and the Jelly Tots have had a fantastic start to their adult league experience.

‘Losing just two games so far this season, with the majority of the girls aged just 12, is a great achievement.’

In the junior league, the winter season saw the club claim a clean sweep, winning all the age groups they entered.

In the current season, meanwhile, the teams are all sitting at the top of their divisions with just one fixture remaining.

Osborne added: ‘A number of the girls are stepping up from Jelly netball into our feeder club Meon as they reach maturity.

‘Last weekend we saw a number of the older girls trialling for spaces in the senior squads to further their netball playing careers.

‘Huge credit must be given to the girls for their hard work, determination and commitment throughout the year.

‘They train up to three times a week and their effort has paid off with so many achievements for the year.

‘The girls are looking forward to our annual Pontins trip next month and fingers crossed we can bring home some silverware.

‘I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you for the help and support from umpires, parents and supporters.’