Isle of Man Netball’s under-17s side was in action at the U17 Europe Netball Challenge event in Gibraltar over the weekend.
The Manx team competed against hosts Gibraltar as well as the Republic of Ireland, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.
Isle of Man coach Emma Williams went into this tournament knowing that each of the countries had the ability to put out a strong squad against the Isle of Man team.
With this age group, there can be constant changes of ability but having past knowledge of the squads the coaches know they are all capable of creating great teams.
The Isle of Man’s first match was against Switzerland who had played a game that morning, so the players were able to watch the earlier game and see what they had to offer.
The Swiss had some great play and linked well but it was the Isle of Man squad that went into the game all cylinders firing. The Manx players took a comfortable lead and, even though Switzerland came together as a team more towards the end of the game, it was the Rams who claimed a convincing win with the final score at 59-23.
The second game was always going to be tough, with UAE having beaten Switzerland by 75-10 which ensured that the Manx side had a big game on their hands.
The players came out well, but the strength of the UAE proved too much and the final score ended 76-36 to the UAE.
The Isle of Man then went up against the Republic of Ireland in what was effectively the silver medal match.
The first few minutes looked like the Rams were going to take an easy win, sitting at 5-1 to the Isle of Man.
They continued to lead for the majority of the game with Ireland just keeping within reach, falling back by six or so goals and then creeping back to within one. As such, the Rams didn’t quite manage to shake them off, but always kept one hand on that silver medal.
Isle of Man remained ahead by one goal going into the final 15 minutes, so it was anyone’s game for the taking.
After a very exciting 15 minutes, it was Ireland that were one goal ahead at the final whistle - a hard loss for the girls to take, having been in control for most of the game.
But it’s the losses and the wins that define the players in the future and this is just the beginning. Isle of Man Netball is very proud of how the girls worked hard and kept fighting in true Rams spirit.
Having taken a tough defeat the day before, the girls looked determined to take a win in their final game against Gibraltar.
With a few new faces in the Isle of Man starting seven, they started the game well and finished it even better, ultimately winning the match 44-27.
At these events there is always a player of the tournament announced at the awards ceremony and the Isle of Man has been very successful with their achievements in this area in the past.
This tournament was no exception and the award was presented to Kenzie Pizzey from the Manx Rams.
Isle of Man Netball congratulates all the players, staff and supporters, and wishes to thank Santander International for its support.