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Pupils net a few tips from England ace Beth Cobden - with pictures

By David Banner | Grassroots | Published:

England international netball player Beth Cobden took a trip down memory lane as she visited her former primary school.

The 24-year-old returned to Five Ways School in Cannock where she led sessions and spoke to pupils as the school look to bring back a competitive netball team, writes Paul Joannu.

Cobden, who plays for 2017 Super League runners-up Loughborough Lightning, was delighted to make her return.

“It was so lovely,” she said. “Coming back now everything looks so small compared to when I was here, it all looked massive when I was a kid but it’s so nice to come and I still recognised a few people.

“The whole day was brilliant. We had activities, sessions and assemblies and it was a bit of fun for everyone so I was so happy to be asked.”

The man who enticed Cobden back to Five Ways was PE teacher Iain Redpath, who was keen to bring her along to inspire his pupils.

“I know her mom and dad as I went to college with them,” Redpath said. “We’re all in teaching so we cross paths quite often.

“We’ve restarted the netball team for the first time in six years so I contacted Beth to see if she could come and inspire. It was fantastic. The whole concept of every child either hearing from or working with an ex-pupil who’s an international sports star is brilliant.

“We’ve got 14 in our netball team at the moment so I’d like to think more will follow. But even so, what Beth said about putting in 100 per cent effort and dedication into sport is great advice for everyone to hear, not just about netball,” he added.

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Cobden represented England as recently as the week before last in a series against Malawi and is hoping to remain in the squad for an exciting year ahead.

“I played the other Wednesday against Malawi and we won the series 3-0,” said Cobden. “Our aim now is to prepare for the Gold Coast Commonwealth games so hopefully I’ll be selected.

We want to push towards a higher position. Australia and New Zealand are usually first and second but that’s where we’re looking to be. We’re full-time now and training in Loughborough before we go back to our clubs.”

Cobden had a strong 2017 with Loughborough but just missed out on the Netball Super League title after losing the play-off final, with the club aiming to go one better next season.

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The England starlet has had a fantastic career so far and is still only 24 and she hopes she won’t be the only one from Cannock to be successful in the sport.

“I hope I’ve inspired people. Even if just one person decides to take up netball after my visit, I’d absolutely love that,” she said.

Redpath felt that the visit was a success and hopes that the link with Cobden can remain strong for the future.

“It’s something we’d like to continue,” he said. “I hope we can use her links, her contacts to also help strengthen our links with other sports clubs as well.”

Cobden will be back in Super League action when the 2018 seasons starts in February.

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