By Ben Hart, Sportsbeat
Rising star Funmi Fadoju says netball fans should expect the unexpected when she takes to the court in the red dress of England this autumn.
Fadoju, 20, has been named in head coach Jess Thirlby’s squad to face Uganda in the upcoming three-match Vitality Netball International Series.
She is one of several exciting young prospects included in the first Vitality Roses squad since the summer’s Commonwealth Games, where Team England finished fourth.
Having not featured in that event, Fadoju is desperate to make the most of the Uganda series, with a World Cup in South Africa just 12 months away.
And after being named the Vitality Netball Superleague Young Player of the Season two years in a row, the Dagenham defender is now hoping to establish herself on the international stage.
“I just want to go out there and have fun,” said Fadoju, when asked what she will bring to the team.
“Be a little bit fearless, you know, not be afraid to go for that interception or go for that fly.
“Sometimes I’m a little frantic, maybe a little too much, maybe I’m not as tactical as the other girls.
“I'd like to go out there and do everything that I can. And that's one of the things I put into the squad, like you don’t expect it, but I just do it.
“If it works, awesome and if it doesn't, I can still try again.”
🇺🇬 Vitality Netball International Series vs. Uganda
🇦🇺 Australia Series
🌍 Fast5 World Series
As @NetballWorldCup preparations step up, some new faces are set to take to the international stage for the Vitality Roses in the coming months 🌹
See who @JessThirlby has selected 👇
— England Netball (@EnglandNetball) September 20, 2022
Fadoju, who only turned 20 in August, has enjoyed a rapid rise through the sport since making her Netball Europe debut in 2019, aged just 16.
She was an integral part of the London Pulse side that reached the semi-finals of the Superleague for the first time in the club’s history earlier this season and was rewarded with a place in the Vitality Roses programme for the first time ahead of the 2022/23 campaign.
And despite recognition at both domestic and international level, Fadoju admits she still has a lot to learn.
Asked if she is growing in confidence with each passing match, she said: “You’d be surprised! I’m like, ‘am I doing something right? Is this good?’
“Running around on court, I don’t think people notice, sometimes I don’t even know what's going on. But the girls are so supportive, they help out and we all just work off each other.
“Being with the girls makes me realise that there's some things I need to work on, such as the fitness stuff that I didn't really think was that important before I came here.”
Ahead of the series with Uganda, Fadoju says she is enjoying taking the newer members of Thirlby’s squad under her wing.
“I haven't been here for long, but some of these girls are even newer,” she added. “It's nice to be able to help other people and to learn from each other too.
“It's obviously an amazing opportunity and it's just a nice time to go out there and play with the girls.”
Tickets to see the Vitality Roses in action against Uganda are still available from the England Netball website