Belfast Telegraph

NI's netball squad want sponsors to get shirty and back their Games bid

By Victoria Leonard

The Northern Ireland netball team are urging supporters to get behind an innovative scheme to fund their 2018 Commonwealth Games bid in Australia.

Players want fans to sponsor Causeway-inspired hexagons on their kit, which will then be filled with donors' names.

The project means that friends, family and the community will be 'on court' with the ladies as they aim for glory on the Gold Coast.

Coach Elaine Rice said the team were proud to have become only the second Northern Ireland squad in history to qualify for the Commonwealth Games.

"They are so proud to represent Northern Ireland and their friends and families," Elaine said.

"Netball is not an Olympic sport, so the Commonwealth Games is the pinnacle of our players' careers.

"Northern Ireland are an amateur team, but in July we were ranked 10th in the world, and by my reckoning we are now about eighth in the world rankings, which is an amazing achievement considering we are competing against professional teams.

"We are also the only sport from Northern Ireland who will be going to compete collectively as a team during the Games."

In September, the team launched their fundraising efforts to raise £23,000 to send 12 players, coach Elaine and four support staff to the competition.

"We were inspired by Killeavy GAA Club in south Armagh, who had the names of their sponsors printed in the numbers on their shirts," Elaine said.

"We decided to get over 40 Causeway-style hexagons printed onto the side panels of our netball dresses by our kit sponsor BLK, which will be filled with the names of people who donate.

"It will cost £20 per name printed on the shirt, which will really help our fundraising efforts.

"The team are really behind it - they liked the idea of having their families, friends and supporters with them in Australia.

"It's lovely to feel that they will be on court with them, despite the team being on the other side of the world."

Potential sponsors can contact bookingsandadmin@netballni.org or telephone 028 9073 6320 - Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm - by Monday, December 11

Belfast Telegraph

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