Following a superb performance in the Vitality Superleague Final in May, it was officially announced last week that defender Fran Williams will be joining the Vitality Roses in their campaign to the World Cup in the next few weeks. In the Superleague Final, Coventry-based Wasps fought a tough battle to come just short of the win against Manchester Thunder, and Fran was praised by the commentary team for being such an intelligent player, seemingly ‘coming out of nowhere’ and ‘making the position her own’. Having just finished her second-year exams towards her Economics degree, Fran got the call from Head Coach Tracey Neville whilst waiting anxiously in the University of Birmingham Sport & Fitness club on campus, and said she is really excited for the home World Cup.
‘I felt beyond excited, words can’t even explain! I was waiting for the whole hour for when I thought I would be getting a call, just staring at my phone screen, and as soon as I saw Tracey Neville’s name I picked up, and immediately burst into tears as soon as she said well done and congratulations. I’m just over the moon to be selected and can’t wait for the summer to see what we can do, and showcase netball to the whole country because off the back of the Commonwealth Games gold, netball’s just going to go from strength to strength.’
This will be Fran’s first World Cup appearance but she made her debut in the Netball Quad Series in January for the England Vitality Roses, stepping onto court at a crucial moment and providing ‘fresh life into the Roses’, helping the team to beat world number one side Australia. Fran has been balancing her training and games with Wasps with her academic work and playing for the University’s British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) first team – who this year won the Premier League and were runners up in the Championship Final, titles in which Fran was instrumental in attaining.
Following the end of an intense Superleague, Fran will have a few weeks before the official England training camps start, but despite her busy schedule, Fran ‘wouldn’t change it’:
‘It’s been a massive year for me, and looking back I am really proud because I feel a lot has come together. It was my first year on the full time England training programme as a full time athlete so having to adjust to that intensity of training has been difficult, but to be able to come out of that and say I have achieved good things with England and with Wasps – and also University! – has been a great result. I didn’t expect to be selected in my first year as a full time athlete, so to get that opportunity to earn my spot in the team is amazing.’
The 21-year old has been on the UBSport Scholarship programme for two years, and despite finding it challenging to split her year to enable her to train with Wasps and England, Fran has found the support on campus, as well as from family and friends, invaluable. ‘I think I’ve been able to adjust so well to the England training programmes because of the support that the scholarship programme has given me,’ she says. ‘From S&C to physio to lifestyle mentoring, the whole team has really helped it all come together so I don’t feel all over the place!’
The Netball World Cup is between 12 – 21 July this year, and we can’t wait to see how Fran and the team get on – good luck all!