By Tom Masters, Sportsbeat
With her mother a squash coach, Katie Malliff was always destined for a life on the court.
A keen football, rugby and tennis player when growing up, it was not until the age of nine that the Wendover star picked up a squash racket, but with encouragement from her mum Tricia, she quickly fell in love with the sport.
The Wendover ace has since gone on to win the European U19 Championships in the Netherlands and she now has the goal of many of the world’s top athletes, rising up the world rankings.
“I liked loads of sports, but I enjoyed squash the most and I just started doing loads of tournaments and got better and better,” said Malliff, who has been selected to be part of the Team England Futures programme with Commonwealth Games England and SportsAid.
“Then I went to junior tournaments and I started doing the bigger world events and travelling the world, just playing tournaments to get my world ranking up.
“That's where I am at the moment, just trying to get my world ranking up.”
The Team England Futures programme will see over 1,000 talented young athletes and aspiring support staff given the opportunity to attend the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, watch live sporting action and take a first-hand look behind-the-scenes.
The programme seeks to better prepare athletes to deliver medal-winning performances as either Team England, Team GB or ParalympicsGB debutants at future Games, while also giving support staff a first-hand look at the opportunities they could be presented with, as well as challenges they may face, at a multi-sport competition.
Malliff is particularly excited to experience that this summer, with one eye on the 2026 Commonwealth Games.
She added: “I'm really looking forward to that. It would be a very good experience just to see how other athletes perform and how they act in our sport.
“It will be such a good experience for me, because hopefully one day I will be playing in the Commonwealth Games, so it will be a good experience.
“The Commonwealth Games in 2026 is definitely where I want to be, I think it's just that title, isn't it? It just sounds pretty cool, and it's every four years which makes it extra special.
“I have massive ambitions to play at the highest level and there’s no substitute for being at these massive events.”
Commonwealth Games England has appointed SportsAid to lead on the development, management and operational delivery of Team England Futures at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. You can find out more about the programme by visiting https://www.sportsaid.org.uk/partnerships/team-england-futures/.