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International opportunity for BGS Sports Scholar

Year 11 BGS pupil and Sports Scholar Orla F. is marking her mark in the world of netball – not only is she a member of local Superleague franchise Team Bath’s U17 squad, but she has also been selected to play netball for Ireland U17 in the upcoming European Championships.

With GCSEs around the corner, as well as a netball season playing for school, club and country ahead of her, we chatted to Orla to find out how she fits it all in and her plans for the future.

She told us: “When I first played netball, I was very focussed on swimming. I swam five days a week and I wasn’t really that excited about netball. But I was keen to do GCSE PE for which I’d need three sports, so I joined a netball club, just because a good friend went there, and fell in love with the sport.”

Although only in Year 11, Orla has been playing in the BGS First VII already this term. Alongside representing the school, Orla also plays for local club side Premier Romans and is a member of the U17 squad at Team Bath. Her impressive form at Goal Defence brought her to the attention of the Ireland national team and, after successful trials in Dublin, Orla will play for Ireland in the U17 European Championships in March in Gibraltar, having already represented Ireland in their recent 48–30 win over Northern Ireland. Victory against Northern Ireland secured Ireland’s place in the championship division in the European tournament, meaning Ireland, and Orla, will play against the top ranking netball sides in the European Championships.

Playing and training for four different netball teams takes up a lot of time, which Orla has to balance with her schoolwork. She explained: “I have to be organised and stay on top of my work but being busy actually helps me stay focussed. I can work in the car while I am travelling to training but fortunately, I don’t feel like I get too much homework, so it isn’t too hard to fit it all in.

“The effort is worth it because I really enjoy playing netball and sport in general. I’ve made loads of friends though playing sport and it gives me a real sense of purpose and drive.”

As a Sports Scholar as BGS, Orla also shares her love of sport and her skills with younger pupils, another aspect of sport she finds really rewarding. As well as helping with netball training for younger players, she also helps coach hockey and really enjoys seeing pupils discover a love for sport – something she hopes to build on by taking a Sports Leadership elective in the Sixth Form.

Talking about her own sporting future, Orla said: “I’m keen to keep playing and to go as far as I can in netball – I’d love to gain more experience of international netball.

“Outside of netball, I’d like to have a career in journalism and sports reporting, but I’ll definitely keep playing netball alongside my Sixth Form and university studies.”

Well done Orla on all you have achieved so far and good luck for the netball season ahead – we can’t wait to see what you do next.