Commonwealth Games: Tracey Neville: Netball: Natural successor to family business

IF THE news that her twin brother Philip had been discarded from Glenn Hoddle's World Cup squad was one of the worst moments of Tracey Neville's life, then her appearance in England's colours at the Commonwealth Games promises to be one of the best.

While Philip and elder brother Gary, both defenders with Manchester United, have pursued sporting careers under the brightest of public spotlights, 21-year-old Tracey has been quietly establishing herself as an international netball forward, or goal attack.

Since making her England debut two years ago, she has won 13 caps and hopes to push that number to 20 in Kuala Lumpur. "The Games will be the first proper championships I've taken part in," said Tracey, her Mancunian accent intact despite spending nearly three years at university in Bristol studying to be a primary school teacher. "I am looking forward to it but I won't know what it's really like until I get there."

It would be remarkable if any family could boast a richer vein of sporting talent than the Nevilles. Both Tracey's brothers were gifted cricketers - "they were good enough to have been internationals if they hadn't joined United" - while she also excelled at hockey, tennis and badminton. Her father, whose own football career was curtailed by an untimely teenage bout of appendicitis, is the commercial manager at Bury, while her mother, a former local league netball player and a child prodigy footballer until the authorities banned her at 11, is the First Division club's secretary.

"We are all naturals I suppose. We all seem to be good at every sport we play," said Tracey. "None of us are giants and at 5ft 8in I am quite small for netball. I do a lot of weight training and I suppose my main assets are speed and strength."

That and having a family as supportive of her career as she is of theirs. "My brothers like to come and watch, but sometimes it can be a bit embarrassing if they are spotted. When we played the West Indies in Sheffield, they were sitting with my mum and dad and just got mobbed."

One suspects, however, that the embarrassment of having to choose between United and Bury should the clubs be drawn together in the FA Cup would be far greater. "Ooh heck, I don't know what I'd do if that happened," she laughed.

Events in Kuala Lumpur are rather more on her mind at the moment. She and the other 11 members of England's squad have been training in a heat chamber to prepare for the humidity. "The idea is to make us feel sweaty. It's important to keep drinking throughout, in fact they want us to drink so much that we'll weigh more after a match than before the start."

The Games will not be Tracey's first visit to Malaysia. "I went out at Easter to test the conditions. The facilities were nowhere near finished and the air conditioning and water in the competitors' village were off for eight hours each day. We are going to spend 10 days acclimatising in Singapore before the Games, and I think we are going to need it."

The format for the netball competition sees the countries split into two round-robin groups of six. The group winners will meet the runners- up from the other pool in the semi-finals with the winners contesting the final. According to the latest calculations, England are ranked fourth in the world. "Australia are the favourites," Tracey said. "They are No 1 in the world but they've lost this year to Jamaica so we'll have to watch out for them as well. The other real dangers are probably South Africa and New Zealand, who beat us in a recent Test series."

In essence, the Games represent the start of an intense 12-month period, which includes a tour to the Caribbean and culminates in the World Championships next August in New Zealand. "I am putting my studies on hold until after then so I can concentrate on netball," said Tracey. "I've got another year and a half to graduate and, honestly, it won't matter if I don't get there until I am 30. The sport pays my expenses, and I've got a bit of Lottery funding. Sponsorship isn't very good apart from a squad tie-up with Gilbert, but I am lucky in that I've also got a footwear deal through my brothers with Diadora. It's a sort of family sponsorship, you might say."


Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UI / UX Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...

Recruitment Genius: General Processor

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot