Sasha Corbin, Georgia Lees and Stacey Francis brace themselves for questions from schoolgirl, sailor and sport fan Lucy Davis.
When I told Sasha Corbin of Loughborough Lightning and England and Georgia Lees from Surrey Storm that I was asking them questions posed by my 11-year-old niece Lucy Davis, their reactions were ‘cool’.
Yorkshire Jets’ Stacey Francis, tongue firmly in cheek, was a different story…
“What team does she support and I’ll decide if I’ll answer her questions…”
“She supports Surrey Storm…”
“Oh no, that’s the worst choice.”
“But that’s because they’re local to her, you can go with that, right?”
“Oh okay. I mean they won, so they’re quite good.”
“Also I live in Sheffield and I’ve seen Yorkshire Jets a few times so surely that makes up for her supporting Surrey Storm?”
Anyway, after a bit of light-hearted sledging, we got on with asking Lucy’s questions.
Lucy: How long do you train for?
Stacey Netball sessions usually last about two hours. If I have a conditioning session then that’s an hour and weights take anything up to 90 minutes. I also work full-time. I studied a sports performance degree at Bath and then I did a Masters in English at Cardiff but now I’m a grown up, well I’m trying, ever since October. I’m a press and communications officer for a company called Sports Coach UK.
Sasha It changes from week to week but in the pre-season we were training from 21 to 25 hours a week and some of those training sessions include technical training, conditioning sessions, weights, video analysis and any match play would also go inside that block of 21-25 hours.
I’m England Netball Ambassador as well as an England Netball player so I’m funded as an England netball player and I work for England Netball in commercial marketing.
It’s an exciting time to be involved in the sport and to get the word out there about netball. So I get to do fun things in my job. It warms my heart to go in and coach young girls and share my experiences and the journey I’ve taken but I like to be honest with them.
They need to know that netball isn’t a full-time job; there’s a lot of players who are teachers, doctors-in-the-making, lawyers-in-the-making – it is fantastic to be able to do that but it is hard to manage life as well.
Lucy: Do you have to be careful about what you eat?
Stacey I think different players have different approaches to their nutrition but I personally feel like it has a huge affect on me both physically and for my performance when I eat well.
I have probably the most extreme diet across anybody in the teams – I follow the paleo diet, which is basically a diet based on the Paleolithic era so it’s basically what cavemen used to eat.
Essentially I don’t eat any processed foods, carbohydrates, dairy, legumes, sugar but I do eat meat, vegetables, healthy fats and oils, and water.
The first thing I do when I get home from work – my life is lame, really boring – is wash up my lunch stuff and prepare my breakfast for the next day, my lunch, my dinner – it’s a process and time consuming but it has a big impact on my life.
Sasha I think it’s more you know what you should and shouldn’t be having so fast food, there’s just no need, and when you’re snacking have good snacks like yogurts, apples, fruit – there’s some really good healthy options out there.
But we have a treat day in the week, otherwise you’ll crave it so I think it’s good to have that day when you can splash out. I’m a massive fan of popcorn at the moment – it sounds really random but I love it and if I’m feeling really good, maybe a milky bar.
Georgia My diet plan probably isn’t ideal. I’m really, really fussy with what I eat. I’ve got a lot better but you do have to make sure when you’re training hard you do take on the right nutritional stuff.
I’ve got such a sweet tooth but at Surrey Storm we’re lucky we’ve got support there so we’ve got the recovery shakes and the protein bars and things like that, which we have after games or after weights or after just training but I’m not very clued up with all of that so we’re very lucky that we do have that there.
Christmas is a terrible time. My mum’s like, ‘I’ve got you some chocolates for your stocking’, and I’m like ‘Noooo, take it all away from me!’
Lucy: What is it like when you’re on court playing in front of loads of people?
Stacey The best feeling. It’s an absolute honour to step out on court in front of any kind of crowd, people that take time and pay money to come and watch you do something you love.
It’s really unique and what’s even better is that experience is available to people who play Superleague now, you don’t just have to be an international to be able to play in front of big crowds as a netballer.
The Superleague is growing bigger and bigger each year and teams are consistently filling out their venues and so for you to recreationally perform in front of loads of people at a sport that you love and essentially do as a hobby is an amazing achievement.
I will be able to go back into work tomorrow and speak about the day I spent at the Sky Sports studio and have photographs taken of me and filming and being on Sky Sports News and being able to speak to journalists like yourself, it’s awesome, it’s fantastic.
SashaThat is the reason why I still want to put on any dress and compete, especially the England dress.
Because of that I get kind of like a buzzing feeling and I get butterflies when I go out and to know that there’s that many people in the crowd rooting for you, wanting you and your country or your team to do well it feels so special.
So every single time I go out there I love it, I try to embrace it and not worry about it, just enjoy the moment.
Georgia Oh that’s a hard one because before you go on court you get the nerves and the butterflies and the first minute, it all just sort of goes.
My mum and dad always ask, ‘Can you see us, can you hear us?’ because they’re absolutely crazy fans but you don’t hear any of it, even when your coach is screaming at you on the sidelines, you have to really try and listen because you’re so in the zone, you just don’t want to come out of that.
So it’s nerves before the game and probably in the first minute of the game but once that’s over you just play, you just get on with it and it’s fine.
When I was first on TV it was really strange. I came off court and had all these tweets from my friends who were like, ‘Oh, you’re on the telly!’
It was such a new thing, it was really, really strange and watching it back you’re like, did I really just do that? But there’s nowhere to hide from anything because it’s on telly and everyone can see it.
Lucy: Do you have special codes or things that you say to each other on court to trick the opposition?
Stacey: No. Maybe the attackers do, maybe it’s an attacker thing. They like to talk lots and like to think that their job is really hard and complicated but defenders get on with the job.
Our communication is incredibly direct, there’s no code because a lot of what we do is really reactive and the things that you’re calling are very much instructional whereas the attackers have the benefit of the control element of the game and so things that they do like a centre pass or off a dead ball situation – what they do is probably much more prescribed.
Georgia Not really. At Storm we don’t really have any set plays. We have things that we try and stick to but not really, no.
I mean you’re always calling, like for myself I’m Wing Attack so on the line on a centre pass you’re always calling to your Goal Attack whether you’re going left or right but no not really any set things that we say to each other.
I remember at school you’d have codes so on a centre pass it’ll be a blue one and the opposition would be like, what’s a blue one so I remember doing that at school but no, not really at Superleague.
Sasha Yes, yes we do have some stuff. I won’t be telling you but there are definitely some things that we do play that we as a unit or a pairing can understand so that the opposition doesn’t know.
And sometimes, if Lucy watches carefully in the next series she might see some certain hand movements and stuff around the centre pass and she might be able to find out what they stand for…
Stacey Francis on Twitter @