By Oli Dickson Jefford
Netballer Jayda Pechova admits her whirlwind year on the court is only just starting to sink in.
The Fleet star, 18, has competed in U21 Netball Europe events this season, as well as representing England in the recent Fast5 series in New Zealand.
And in a year that saw her seal a contract for Team Bath next season, her potential was recognised with a nomination for SportsAid’s prestigious One-to-Watch award.
With only 10 athletes shortlisted from a potential shortlist of over 1,000 athletes, Pechova says that it was only when she looked back at 2022 that she realised just how significant it had been.
She said: “I feel like I never really put it into perspective until I looked back on the year and thought I actually have achieved quite a lot.
“I’m just excited for what’s to come, just to keep pushing forward, just keep training with incredible people and learning from them - I’m really encouraged for next season.
🏆 ONE-TO-WATCH AWARD 🏆
It’s time to #CelebrateTheNext with a video of our top 🔟 athletes and their amazing achievements throughout 2022 🤩
The winner of this year’s One-to-Watch Award will be revealed by @xxEbobxx….she won the accolade when it was last presented in 2019 👏 pic.twitter.com/tJM0KkptKO
— SportsAid (@TeamSportsAid) November 17, 2022
“I’ve just got back from New Zealand, competing in the Fast5 world series which was really fun. Just being in the same environment as incredible players that I’ve always looked up to, it was crazy.
“I also went to U21s Netball Europe which we won which was really good as well and I also captained an invitational team at Netball Europe earlier this year.”
SportsAid’s One-to-Watch Award has gained a strong reputation for identifying the best up-and-coming prospects in Britain since its launch in 2006.
Previous winners, including Tom Daley OBE, Hollie Arnold MBE, Courtney Tulloch and Alex Yee MBE, have already amassed over 50 senior medals from Olympic and Paralympic Games, World and European Championships, as well as Commonwealth Games, to establish themselves as household names.
Pechova is rising up the netball ranks at a rapid-fire pace, and it is fair to say she holds clear ambitions for her future.
Remember the name, Mark Swan! The powerlifting star was named winner of @TeamSportsAid's prestigious One-to-Watch award at the charity's #CelebrateTheNext event, supported by RBC. Congratulations to all 10 inspiring athletes who were shortlisted: https://t.co/fvfY2OS5vU pic.twitter.com/3BtzvAzrPz
— RBC Wealth (@RBCwealth) November 21, 2022
The teenager is looking to make her mark for Team Bath when the new season begins next February, and also start pushing to feature internationally.
She added: “For next season, the target is definitely getting court time in the Super League. I got my first full contract this year so I’m really excited for that and continuing through the England pathway, getting put in more squads - I’m really excited for that!
“Long term wise, it’s definitely senior England - being part of that group would be my dream. Playing against the main New Zealand team with the main England team would actually be a dream of mine."
SportsAid’s Celebrate the Next event, kindly supported by Royal Bank of Canada, was hosted at Sea Containers House in London thanks to Hogarth Worldwide. Please visit www.sportsaid.org.uk to find out more.