ngland’s silver medal in the netball World Cup will act as a “catalyst” for getting people into a sport “you can play at any age”, grassroots players and fans have said.
The Vitality Roses’ hopes of glory were crushed in a 61-45 defeat to Australia in Cape Town on Sunday.
The squad were making their maiden World Cup final appearance and knew they had to be at their best to win the trophy.
Despite the setback, the tournament has sparked greater interest in the sport and raised hopes more people will get involved.
The chair of Wandsworth Netball Club said that, despite the result, England’s performance will act as a “catalyst” for getting players to join grassroots teams.
It’s such a catalyst and it’s so important for people getting into grassroots netball teams
Emma Beardmore, 26, who chairs Wandsworth Netball Club in south west London, said England’s performance will “definitely be a conversation starter” for the sport despite England missing out on gold.
She told the PA news agency: “It’s such a catalyst and it’s so important for people getting into grassroots netball teams.
“To get a silver medal is a huge and fantastic achievement that shouldn’t be overlooked, and I think all the individual players should be really, really proud of themselves.
“Even though it’s not the result we wanted, to get the gold medal, we have pre-season on Wednesday and it’s definitely going to be a conversation starter, even amongst the girls who play netball week in, week out.
“It’s hugely inspiring, and having gotten over the initial shock of it, I definitely feel really proud to play the sport.”
Abby Chamberlain, 32, who is head coach at Wyre Netball Club in Thornton-Cleveleys near Blackpool, said she believes the Vitality Roses have been “great role models” who will help people get into a sport “you can play at any age”.
She told PA: “It is disappointing but it is a great achievement to get into the final, that was historic.
“They have been such great role models and that has really shone through.
“Our sport is a sport you can play at any age. It can be played at a competitive and non-competitive level, even little tots aged four or five can play.
“There is so much you can do with our sport, it is so mouldable. It is for all ages and abilities.”
Jill Foreman, 40, an ex-England under-17 player who is now a coach at Hartlepool Oaksway Netball Club, said she is “disappointed” at the result but the awareness the Vitality Roses have raised is “fantastic”.
She told PA: “I am disappointed. It was a great achievement to get to the final but I think all along we all hoped we could have taken a win.
“We hope to see an increase in the numbers at the club. Hopefully the disappointment in the result should not affect people wanting to play.
“We filled a cricket club with spectator families and it is all about participation, it is all about raising awareness, it is fantastic.”
The Roses, who came third in the last three World Cups and six times overall, had been on a high after beating Australia 56-55 in the group stage on Thursday and defending champions New Zealand in the semi-finals.
But Australia reacted to their defeat and steadily built an unassailable lead for a 12th World Cup crown.
After the match, head coach Jess Thirlby said that despite the final result, she is “incredibly proud” the team got as far as they did.
She said: “I am incredibly proud, despite the final result. We absolutely deserved to be there.
“We had to battle to get there and it’s just proven to us that you’ve got to be able to go again in a big game against the number one and we just fell short today.
“We’re obviously going to be gutted with a losing margin like that in our first final but such was the difference between a team that has been in 12 of them and a team that have just broken into their first one.
“It’s a tough lesson of course but over the next three days I’m sure it will sink in in terms of that history that we’ve made.”
Player Eleanor Cardwell added: “There are so many positives. This is my first World Cup and for a lot more of the girls it’s their first World Cup and everyone’s first World Cup final.
“Last year at the Commonwealth Games we came fourth and it was heartbreaking.
“Now, it’s heartbreaking that we haven’t won gold but we’ve got silver and we can be really happy with ourselves and what we’ve done over the past 10 days.”