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Team Bath’s Sophie Drakeford-Lewis says playing for England at a home major tournament next year would achieve a lifelong netball dream, writes Jack Lacey.
This week marks one year until the 2022 Commonwealth Games get under way in Birmingham, with England looking to retain the gold medal they won in Australia back in 2018.
With an outstanding season at Vitality Netball Superleague level with Team Bath, who made the final this season, under her belt, Drakeford-Lewis is desperate to be a part of the national team that takes to the court next year.
The 22-year-old goal attack, who has five international caps to her name, has become a rising star in the England team particularly since Head Coach Jess Thirlby took charge back in July 2019.
She said: “It has been a dream of mine since I was very, very little to play for the Roses at a home tournament.
“To be able to put on that red dress in such a big event would be an honour. Every time you do that is an incredible feeling, and to play with such a great group of girls makes it even more special.
“We will be working hard to retain that medal that was won by the team in 2018, so there is a level of pressure also, but for it is more exciting, just the thought of a crowd behind us in Birmingham.
“I can’t wait to see what this squad can put together over the next few months and see if we can try and achieve that.”
A multi-event games in a home city, could be the opportunity to take the sport onto a whole new level in this country, in terms of exposure.
Even for a relatively new member of team, the importance is not lost on Drakeford-Lewis.
“The gold in 2018 was so inspirational in so many ways, not only the manner of the final, but how people viewed netball,” added Drakeford-Lewis.
One year to go to @birminghamcg22! 🙌
Share one positive word or inspirational message that the Vitality Roses can carry with them through 2021-22 ⬇#1YearToGo #B2022 | @TeamEngland pic.twitter.com/7Tozwjobmo
— England Netball (@EnglandNetball) July 28, 2021
“It has grown so much since then, and we have been getting so much more support in recent years because of that win.
“If we can retain it in 2022, it would be unbelievable. We all know what a big opportunity it will be.
“If it is anything like the crowds that came out in Liverpool back in 2019, it will be electric on court.
“Obviously, we all missed that this season (due to the pandemic) so just the opportunity to be re-connected with fans will be really special.”
To keep up to date with all the Vitality Roses news follow @englandnetball on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram or visit the England Netball website.