Helen Housby exclusive: “English netball must ensure that 2018 is not a one-off event”
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elen Housby divides life into two very distinct parts: life before this goal in 2018 and life beyond this watershed moment.
On several occasions she had read and heard how netball was Australia’s only guaranteed gold medal at these Commonwealth Games while she was living in the host country before the tournament, as she still was until. ‘last month.
And yet, as the protagonist of the winning moment in a thrilling final, it was Housby whose goal changed both his life and that of the England netball team.
It sparked a spotlight on sports; awards ceremonies, sponsorship deals and most importantly a massive increase in the number of attendees including Housby’s own mother who always sends messages to her daughter if she has a notable performance on the pitch.
The 26-year-old is now back in London for her first appearance for England since the 2019 World Cup as part of the Roses Reunited three-game series against Jamaica starting on Sunday.
It seems unthinkable that Housby could ever eclipse the 2018 gold medal events for sheer drama, but, in a big season that included a Commonwealth Games title defense in August, that’s his goal.
“I don’t mean to say it can’t be overshadowed because I want something to work for and look forward to,” she told Standard Sport. “It was an amazing time and changed netball in this country, and the way we see ourselves on the world stage.
“Winning more comfortably would be good, easier on the heart rate! But I am excited about what the next two years will bring to England.
Housby is an established figure of the club and the international scene – “I don’t mean old, more experienced,” she says – and sometimes feels like she’s riding the crest of the wave thanks to that successful shot on goal . specifically.
“It’s funny but I look at life before and after the Commonwealth Games, it’s so different,” she explains. “Not just in terms of netball, but things outside like social media. Everything changed completely after the Games and we are still feeling the effects now with an interest in netball and me personally.
“At first it was quite intimidating and overwhelming, but I’m very grateful for it. I want to put netball on the main stage and do everything to make it a better place.
With her game she has continued to do so, most recently winning the Super Netball Grand Final for the NSW Swifts at the end of a strange season affected by Covid.
She played her first three games of the season in Sydney where she was based before traveling the country in a bid to dodge various state blockages and keep playing.
“Cases started to increase in NSW and we heard we were going to lock up and found out we had to escape,” she recalls.
“We had less than a day to escape Sydney. We were initially told we would be gone for two weeks, but it had been months and I never returned to Sydney until the end of the season.
The road and plane trip took her to Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Melbourne, Adelaide and finally back to Brisbane, a city break that involved last-minute charter flights at midnight to various temporary homes. It has become common practice to buy milk and butter in the various apartments where she stayed so as not to touch anything.
“It was a lot of stress, but being forced to go through a situation like this really helps if you have a strong bond with your teammates,” she said.
She is confident to transfer this form of club to the international level, the idea in her mind being that winning only makes her want to win more.
“The ultimate goal is to do it more than once for England,” she adds. “We got a taste of it in 2019 and we want more. The success of 2018 cannot be one-off.
“There are a lot more eyes watching us and expecting us to deliver, but that’s just the nature of the sport. We have to take it on our shoulders, embrace it and love it. This is the only way to be successful.
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