By Rosie Foley
Wales announced their squad at the start of September, which has allowed for sufficient time to prepare. In the squad were two Cardiff University students, Leila Thomas and Chloe Dyke.
Chloe tweeted that she was ‘extremely grateful and happy to be selected’ and was looking forward to the ‘exciting times ahead’. With Leila also taking to twitter saying how ‘honoured’ she was to be selected.
In preparation for the championships, Cardiff University Netball team helped out with their training by playing against the Wales U21’s team. With Cardiff Uni Netball saying that the match had ‘great play and intensity’ and wishing the girls good luck.
Northern Ireland were the hosts to the Netball Europe Under-21 Open Championships. The Three-day championship marks the highlight of the Under-21 Season and, for the Welsh side, the tournament was a high point for the elite age group to showcase their skills.
Their first game was against Scotland in what was a tough matchup for Wales as they couldn’t quite get into their rhythm. However, the Wales defence of Leila Thomas and Christina Shaw worked hard to interrupt Scotland’s attack. The game was very close but the defensive change for Wales did not make the impact they wanted, allowing for a 65-44 victory in Scotland’s favour.
England were Wales’ second opponents. And, whilst Wales were able to keep level with a strong England team for the first five minutes they eventually became victim to a strong England attack.
On a positive, there were several half-time changes giving players the opportunity to showcase themselves. In the final quarter, Rhian Evans built up Wales’ points with Chloe Dyke creating some great opportunities for the shooters. However, the Roses continued with their top-class netball and won the game 90-26.
Their final match of the championships were the hosts Northern Ireland. Both teams were looking for a win.
Wales took the lead in the second quarter, with Leila Thomas making an amazing save and storming up the court leading to a Wales goal. However, Northern Ireland were not far behind and kept the pressure on. Wales were looking like they were keeping their lead in the final quarter but the momentum swung back in Northern Ireland’s favour. The game would end up finishing in a close 45-42 win for the hosts.
Regardless of the result, Welsh netball were proud of how they played and are happy to see talent emerging from their youth teams.