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By Fran Plom on 6.5.2023

Netball 1st Team Charges to Unprecedented Promotion

The Kent University Netball First team recently secured a place in the Premiership South league, becoming the first club at Kent to ever obtain a place in the Premiership.

The First team has been a hugely successful team in recent years. This year was the team’s third consecutive win of a league title and its second year winning the South East region 1A division, making it, for the second year running, the best team in the South East. It also gave us our second attempt at the play-offs for the Premiership and we were determined that this time we would achieve promotion.

After losing a place in the Premiership last year to Exeter in the playoffs, the team wa adamant that this year would be its year and immediately started working towards this year’s play-offs. The team has worked so hard, coming back to university early in the summer to start pre-season training, returning early from the Christmas break to continue the hard work, and staying in Canterbury throughout the whole of the Easter break to keep working towards obtaining a Premiership place. The players even got up for 7.30am training sessions twice a week. It was this resolve that got us to the play-offs, and it was the hard work that the players put in week in and week out that lead to our success. You could tell, going into these play-offs, that we were a stronger team, and results proved this: Kent beat most teams in the league by between 15 and 20 goals.

The play-offs are run over two matches – with fixtures both home and away – and Kent were due to play University of West England. To get into the Premiership you have to either win both games or obtain a greater goal difference over the two legs. Their first game was the home game, but because of organisational difficulties this fixture had to be played on the Christchurch campus – the borrowed turf of our local rivals. Although not ideal, that did not stop the team and the players from coming out with a massive victory, winning 40-19. Coincidently, the team won by 21 goals on my 21st birthday – giving even more cause to celebrate.

The game was an outstanding show from Kent; the defence were on top form making fantastic interceptions, and they forced UWE into making numerous mistakes. This allowed us to take the lead from the first quarter and keep building on it to get such a great victory. The attack kept calm and held off UWE strong defence to feed the shooters well and put the goals on the board.

Netball 1st team team-talk before a crucial game

Yet despite this fantastic win, the team was well aware that the team it was playing against was no easy opposition, and to the focused Kent players it certainly did not at any point feel like they had a 21 goal lead – we were not taking anything for granted with the away game. We took a coach full of supporters and a crate full of redbull down to Bristol for the away game, geared up for one of the most important games for Netball at Kent ever. For UWE to get into the Premiership instead of Kent they had to beat our team by 22 goals, and it was clear they were going to be on much better form at home. But we were determined not to have a repeat of next year. The feeling the girls had the year before was still very strong in their minds and they were not prepared to experience it again.

You could tell the girls were all very nervous when the game started and they went down in the first five minutes by 5 goals. I unfortunately went down with a knee injury in the first quarter and changes were made in the shooting end to deal with this. Charlotte Jordan – our captain – did very well at this point at keeping the team together, and from this change on the team got better and better. The team finished the quarter down by 6 but we still had 45 minutes left to pull it back. The team got progressively better quarter by quarter but going into the last quarter we were 8 down. It was okay though – UWE still had to pull back 14 goals to beat Kent.

Going into the last quarter, wing attack Hollie Bishop gave good advice to an injured shooter which seemed to work brilliantly. From then on, with some fantastic feeds from both attacks to the shooters and some top class interceptions from the defence, Kent got back into the game, pulling back 7 goals. Unfortunately they were not able to pull back that last goal and the game finished 30-31 to UWE. This did not matter though, as Kent’s 21 goal lead had secured them their place in Premiership. They had done it, and had become the first team ever from Kent to get into such a high league.

Now the Netball Club, Kent Union and Kent Sport are currently in talks about the season ahead and all parties involved are working to make sure that next year can also be a successful year for the netball club and future clubs who can undoubtedly achieve the same success netball has.

Kent Netball would also like to take the time to thank the supporters who attended the play-off games, the support both home and away was fantastic and really helped the teams morale. They would also like to take the time to thank everyone who has helped them throughout the season to make the changes necessary in the club to make it into the Premiership, and particularly the sports centre who made our 7.30am training sessions possible, Kent Union for organising the teams throughout the season, and Redbull for supporting us and giving us supplies throughout the season.

By Fran Plom, the Netball Chairwoman, and Shooter of the First team.

Netball 1st team named ‘Team of the Year’ at the annual Colours Ball


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