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."


Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
premier league
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
people'I hated him during those times'
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleMemoir extracts show iconic designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Life and Style
fashionAlexander Fury's Spring/Summer 2015 London Fashion Week roundup
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late on stage in Brixton show
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
people''Women's rights is too often synonymous with man-hating'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam