Paul Evans is father to Wales U17 star Rhian Evans who recently played at the annual Netball Performance League Tournament, hosted by England Netball at the University of Nottingham.
Paul has written a blog of the family’s experience whilst daughter Rhian represents her country on court. His blog gives a unique perspective of a parent, and all the nerves, admin and pride that comes with it.
Day 1. Squad Travelling Day.
Has your daughter packed all the correct Netball kit from the check list?! What else do they need? Hope they get there safely – and on time!
Day 2. Collect GCSE results, travel and spectate.
Get to school by 07:30. Collect results, open and call daughter with the good news. Good start to the day. Travel to Nottingham. Hope the roads are clear. Need to be there by 12:30 for the first match.
We arrived in plenty of time and meet up with the other parents.
Game 1 v Manchester Thunder.
The talk amongst parents was that Thunder were going to be one of the strongest teams. This was proven to be correct, however the Welsh girls showed plenty of skill and fighting spirit to lose a close match by just 5 goals.
Game 2 v Surrey Storm.
With both teams losing their first match we didn’t know what to expect. We need not to worry as Wales dominated the court and won comfortably against a young Surrey team that would end up bottom of the tournament.
Good to meet up with the girls after the game to congratulate them. They were all enjoying the experience and seemed to be having a great time.
Day 3: Another 2 games.
Walk around the fantastic grounds and facilities of Nottingham University. What a great venue for the tournament.
Game 3 v Yorkshire Netball.
Another tough game against a strong physical Yorkshire team. The Welsh girls did not give an inch and the match went down to the wire with Wales eventually losing by 3 goals.
Game 4 v Bath.
With both teams having lost two and won one this was a huge game in regards to table positions. Both teams were very evenly matched with Bath leading by the odd goal for most of the match. However Wales upped the pace in the final quarter to lead by one with just 10 seconds remaining. However Bath kept there nerve to score one final goal to earn a fair draw.
Back to the hotel bar to calm the nerves!
Day 4: Play Offs.
Game 5 v South Tigers.
Wales needed to win to secure a good position in the play-offs and they did not disappoint. South kept the score level until half time however were blown away by a rampant Wales in the second half. Job done, now get ready to battle through the 5th – 8th place play offs.
Game 6 v Wasps.
Having beating Wasps in Coventry earlier in the season the parents were fairly confident going into this match. However during the warm up the Wasps team looked a very strong well organised outfit. We had no need to worry as Wales gave a fantastic display of Netball to dominate and win comfortably in the end.
Ice bath for the girls, whisky and ice for the parents! Back to hotel to celebrate a fantastic day of Netball for the Welsh girls.
Day 5: We meet again, Team Bath.
Game 7 v Bath.
A re-match from the group stage. We knew it was always going to a tight match following the group stage draw. The Welsh girls were like the walking wounded following six hard fought matches against top opposition. Nevertheless they played with all the fight and heart you expect from Welsh teams and didn’t let Bath get out of sight. Having trailed throughout the match Wales went into the final quarter 3 down. The next 10 minutes Wales refused to lie down and pulled level with two minutes to go. With both sets of supporters encouraging their own team noise levels reaching a high and Wales showed immense determination to take the lead and eventually won by 3 goals.
Triumphant scenes followed with Wales’s players and coaches celebrating the being applauded off court by thrilled parents and supporters.
Summary: Challenge Accepted.
A fantastic experience for the Welsh team. Every match was a challenge and each player came away a better player with huge amounts of credit. To finish 5th out of 12 Super league franchises and to only lose narrowly to both the eventual finalists was a great achievement by the entire team and coaching staff.
Let’s hope we get an invite back next year. I’m not sure my nerves will stand it though!!!!