A University of Worcester student has been selected to represent England in the Netball World Youth Cup.
Iona Darroch, a first year Illustration student, will head to Botswana for the tournament in July as part of the 12-strong Under 21 team.
“It’s a great honour to be able to represent my country,” said Iona, of Handforth, Cheshire.
“There’s been a lot of hard work, but it’s paid off. Two years ago I wouldn’t have thought I had a chance, so it’s amazing to be selected.
“It’s a great group of girls to go away with and I’ve got to know them really well over the last four years. I’m super excited.”
Iona, who plays for the Severn Stars, a new Superleague professional side owned by the University of Worcester and University of Gloucestershire, has been part of the England Roses Under 21 long squad, a group of around 20 girls who meet up for regular England training sessions and camps, from which a squad for competitions is picked, for the last two years. Before that she was with the under 19s squad.
The 19-year-old took part in a preparation tour earlier this month.
The squad leaves for a holding camp in Pretoria, South Africa at the start of July before heading onto Botswana for the tournament, which starts on July 8.
Iona, who also plays for the University’s netball first team, said: “I think my move to Severn Stars has definitely helped me gain more experience.
“It’s the training intensity and match experience you get with the Superleague. It definitely develops you as a player.
“It gives you more exposure to a high level of netball – it’s a lot more physical and a quicker game compared to other netball leagues because you are playing against some of the top players.”
Alongside her studies, Iona fits in at least 14 hours of on-court training, weights, conditioning and matches a week.
“It’s definitely been a bit of a juggling act to train alongside a degree, but I have managed to meet all my deadlines and the University has been really understanding and the support I have had from the University’s scholarship team has been helpful,” she added.
Iona said she has also got guidance from other Stars players, including those who have experience with England and the competition itself, such as Jodie Gibson, Eleanor Cardwell and Laura Malcolm, and Stars assistant coach Sam Bird, who played for England in the World Youth Cup.
University of Worcester Director of Netball, Louisa-Jayne Walker, said: “Iona’s hard work and dedication both on and off the court is an inspiration to many of our students and we are proud that she is a part of our University of Worcester Netball Club. We wish her and the team the best of luck.”