Wales are enjoying their #NetballNovember promotion – and they have made sure there is more excitement in December.
The big match this month is against Superleague club Team Bath, who take on Wales at Ebbw Vale Leisure Centre on Saturday (November 18, 4pm start).
The Welsh players will then turn to a two-test series between against Samoa at Sport Wales National Centre, Cardiff on Tuesday, December 5 and Thursday, December 7 (both 7.30pm).
Samoa’s visit came as a surprise for Welsh netball fans already excited by the challenges ahead. Wales have a huge nine months ahead at international and Superleague club levels.
The national team are in action during January when they go to Scotland and their aim is to qualify for the World Cup. Two World Cup places are available and three teams are in contention.
Scottish Thistles, Wales and Northern Ireland play in the qualifiers, while England automatically go through to the finals because they are hosting the 2019 championships in Liverpool.
England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland all compete at the Commonwealth Games in Australia next April.
Captain Suzy Drane and her Celtic Dragons start their Superleague campaign with back-to-back fixtures against benecosMavericks on Monday, February 12 followed by Team Bath on the following Saturday (both 7pm).
The venue for both is the Sport Wales National Centre in Cardiff.
Dragons have an all-Welsh squad for their 2018 season and that clash with Team Bath in Ebbw Vale will be invaluable preparation for club and country.
The Anglo-Welsh fixture will be an extended match of six 15-minute periods
Before the start there will also be a Wales fanzone where supporters can get autographs, take selfies and obtain top class netball advice from the players.
Tickets for the Wales v Bath match are £10 adults and £6 per child including entry to the fanzone and the game. Tickets can be purchased at https://www.ticketline.co.uk/welsh-netball
Rosie Pretorius, Welsh netball’s head of performance, is thrilled about the squad’s trip to Blaenau Gwent.
“We are extremely excited to be taking the Wales squad to Ebbw Vale,” she said. “We always receive a fantastic welcome and we are hoping for a sell out crowd to really get behind our girls!”
“This is an important game in preparations for the Commonwealth Games with six lots of 15 minute periods being played to work on new combinations. It is a fantastic opportunity for the players to be out in the community to meet with their young fans.”
Samoa come to Cardiff for two matches against Wales in December, part of Samoa’s UK tour. They take on Scottish Thistles early in December before coming to Wales.
This will be the first time Wales have hosted Samoa in a home test series .
The matches against Samoa, ranked 14 in the World, come as the netball season is stepping up a gear for Wales. Following the Netball Europe Open Championships in October, Wales play Team Bath and Samoa before their World Championship and Commonwealth Games commitments.
“We are looking forward to welcoming Samoa to Cardiff for the first time and look forward to showcasing even more international netball in Wales in what has been a busy year,” said Pretorius. “Samoa bring a different style which will be exciting to watch and it will give our Welsh players the opportunity to build on their performances at Netball Europe.”
Wales Head Coach, Trish Wilcox is particularly looking forward to the clash, given her experience working with the Samoan set-up.
“In 2013 I was coaching the Samoa under-21 team at the World Youth Cup in Glasgow when Samoa were in the same pool as the Welsh team,” she said.
“That is where I first saw several of the players now in the current Wales senior squad.
“Wales achieved 6th placing at that tournament and I remember being really impressed with that group of youngsters and thinking that boded well for Wales in the future.
“Little did I know then that I would be coaching these players. It was a privilege and I thoroughly enjoyed coaching Samoa at that tournament and am proud of our achievement of 10th which was then the highest placing by a Samoa under-21 team.”
Tickets for the Wales v Samoa matches cost £10 for adults, £6 for concessions and are available from www.ticketline.co.uk/welsh-netball
There are group discounts for affiliated clubs in groups of over 10, costing £8 per adult and £5 concessions.