Welsh Netball wants to extend a warm welcome to England, Fiji, Northern Ireland and Scotland for Day 1 of the Netball Europe Open Championships 2017. Over the next four days, Wales will take on these four netball rivals in a round-robin tournament. These matches will provide vital preparation for the teams ahead of their participation in the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Queensland’s Gold Coast in Australia next April.
England arrive in the Welsh capital with a strong squad, featuring a number of exciting young debutantes. They are captained by the experienced Sasha Corbin who represents the Hertfordshire Mavericks in the Vitality Netball Superleague.
Corbin is excited about the range of talent in the Roses squad. She said: “There’s a lot of talented young girls in this team – they all deserve to be here and they’ve all performed either in the Superleague or in trials so it’s their chance to step up and take on the reins.”
Meanwhile, Fiji have spent the last few days acclimatising to the Welsh autumn after the long journey from the Pacific Islands. Netball is hugely popular in Fiji and the Pearls are relishing the opportunity to showcase their talent on the European stage.
Our neighbours over the Irish Sea, Northern Ireland, arrive in Cardiff in a buoyant mood as they have recently enjoyed a series win against the Republic of Ireland, Barbados and Singapore.
Northern Ireland are captained by Caroline O’Hanlon who plays for the Sirens in the Vitality Netball Superleague. A talented Gaelic footballer, she will be focusing on leading her side to further victories over the next few days.
Finally, the Thistles come to South Wales with plenty of reasons for confidence. The Scottish Sirens franchise finished sixth in last year’s league table and Scotland will be hosting next year’s Netball Europe’s World Cup qualifiers in Perth.
Given that Scotland will be facing both Wales and England during the Commonwealth Games, the next few days will be critical in their preparation for the Gold Coast.
We hope that both the home and travelling fans have a fantastic weekend here in Cardiff. We are confident that everybody will enjoy a brilliant weekend of netball action and we are pleased that viewers from across the world will be able to tune in on BBC Sport’s online platforms, as well as Netball Europe’s YouTube channel.