England Netball Player Fran Williams Visits Henley Hawks Netball Club

Henley Hawks Netball Club got to learn from the very best last Tuesday at a coaching session with England netballer, Fran Williams. A select group of 30 women, aged 16 and up, got put through their paces by Fran, taking part in a number of technique drills before moving on to play a match. The evening was rounded off with a Q&A at Henley Rugby Club, allowing the players to gain even more insight from Fran.

Fran Williams is an England netball player, having recently been reselected into the Vitality Roses programme for 2022-23. At youth level, she captained England’s U21 side and attended a Netball World Youth Cup before making her senior debut against Uganda in 2018. Fran was the youngest player selected to compete in the Vitality Netball World Cup 2019 squad, where she won the first medal of her senior international career. She has also won back-to-back Vitality Netball Superleague titles with Wasps before joining her current team, Loughborough Lightning.

However, before her international netball career began, Fran used to play locally with Woodley Netball Club. She said on Tuesday, “I love coming down and seeing netball at grassroots level. From having grown up in Caversham and playing it, I went to Reading Bluecoat for sixth form and Kendrick so I’m a local girl, so it’s nice to come back and see local clubs training and playing, because this was the area that I started playing netball. I played at Woodley Netball Club, that was my first netball club, and I’m now based in Loughborough where my England training is and also the Superleague team.”

Fran’s coaching session with the Henley Hawks came about through a stroke of luck. Whilst she was watching a friend play in the Maidenhead League, Fran was approached by Henley Hawks player Tam. Fran recalled, “Tam came over to me and was saying, can you come down and meet my local club and run some sessions, they’d all like to meet you and learn anything they can from you. So that’s how it came about!”

The session was limited to 30 people due to health and safety. Lou Porter, Vice Chair and Head Coach for Henley Hawks Netball Club, said, “The minute we put it out to everyone, we sold out straight away, within minutes. It’s huge [to have her]. Netball is one of the most participated female sports in this country.”

Lou continued, “For us here, we’re new, we’ve only been here since November, so it’s all huge for us. Our numbers have grown and grown and grown, and the minute you say to the girls, we are giving back, we’re looking for new coaches, and not only new coaches but we’ve got a guest coach — an England netballer — coming down to coach you, every was like, ‘what!’”

All abilities were welcome to participate. Totie Southwell, Chair of Henley Hawks Netball, said, “We have ladies here who come to our low impact sessions, our walking sessions that aren’t necessarily in those competitive leagues but are open to every ability in the club, so they can see and meet these players and see what they’re like.”

Henley Hawks Netball Club train on Mondays and Thursdays at Henley Rugby Club. New players of all ages are welcome, aged 16+, and your first session is free. If you would like to give netball a go, email henleyhawksnetball@gmail.com or contact Lou on 07855057794.