SEVERN Stars player Iona Darroch has been selected to represent England in the Netball World Youth Cup.
The University of Worcester student will head to Botswana for the tournament in July as part of the 12-strong Under 21 team.
“It’s a great honour to be able to represent my country,” said the 19-year-old from Handforth, Cheshire.
“There’s been a lot of hard work, but it’s paid off. Two years ago I wouldn’t have thought I had a chance, so it’s amazing to be selected.
“It’s a great group of girls to go away with and I’ve got to know them really well over the last four years. I’m super excited.”
Darroch joined the Superleague franchise last summer and is also studying Illustration at the city’s university.
She has been part of the England Roses under-21 long squad, a group of around 20 girls who meet up for regular training sessions and camps. Before that she was with the under 19s squad.
The 5ft 5in player who can play centre, wing attack or goal attack took part in a preparation tour earlier this month.
The squad leaves for a holding camp in Pretoria, South Africa before heading onto Botswana for the tournament, which starts on July 8.
“I think my move to Severn Stars has definitely helped me gain more experience,” Darroch continued.
“It’s the training intensity and match experience you get with the Superleague.
“It definitely develops you as a player.
“It gives you more exposure to a high level of netball – it’s a lot more physical and a quicker game compared to other netball leagues because you are playing against some of the top players.”
Alongside her studies, Darroch fits in at least 14 hours of on-court training, weights, conditioning and matches a week.
“It’s definitely been a bit of a juggling act to train alongside a degree,” said Darroch, who also plays for the university’s first team.
“But I have managed to meet all my deadlines and the university has been really understanding and the support I have had from the university’s scholarship team has been helpful.”
Darroch said she had received guidance from teammates, including England internationals Jodie Gibson, Eleanor Cardwell and Laura Malcolm, and Stars assistant coach Sam Bird, who played for England in the World Youth Cup.