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Sophia Candappa of Wasps features in our weekly VNSL recap.

With eleven teams gearing up for the 2021 season, the news comes thick and fast in the Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL).

We have compiled the biggest news and the best bits of social media over the last seven days to get you up to speed.

Wasps’ Sophia Candappa named Chair of NPA

Earlier this month, the Netball Players Association (NPA) announced the appointment of Sophia Candappa as Chair, and Stacey Francis as Vice-Chair of the Players Committee.

The pair will play a key leadership role working alongside the Player Representatives and Player Development Manager to strengthen the players voice on the NPA Board as both will sit on the Board as part of their roles.

Candappa recently stepped down from her previous role with the NPA of Player Liaison Officer to pursue her teaching career at Wellington College as Head of Psychology and Assistant Director of Sport, while also returning to play in the VNSL following the birth of her first child.

The former England international began her playing career at Loughborough Lightning while she was a student there, before moving to Mavericks, then played for Surrey Storm and most recently Wasps Netball.

She said: “I am thrilled to continue my work with the NPA and I am really looking forward to working with the player reps and development manager more closely. The players voice is an integral part of developing and strengthening our sport, so it is great to be on board in this new role.”

Pulse announce 2021 coaching set-up

London Pulse officially announced their coaching team for the 2021 VNSL campaign with a number of stellar names set to lead the club throughout the season.

Head Coach Sam Bird returns for another season after a stellar start to 2020. She will be joined by Australian netball legend Vicki Wilson, who brings a wealth of experience after a notable playing and coaching career.

Former Head Coach Amanda Newton returns for 2021 and will look to improve Pulse defensively. The former England international and VNSL winner has worked as an Assistant with Saracens Mavericks and Loughborough Lightning in the past.

The remainder coaching team is made up by former England captain and ‘defensive oracle’ Fiona Murtagh and Dannii Titmuss, who has enjoyed success at youth level with Pulse and Wasps in the past.

Anna Stembridge impressed with coaches

Team Bath Netball’s Anna Stembridge was out in support of her fellow coaches and commended their flexibility during this difficult period.

The Blue and Gold’s Head Coach herself has had to stay in touch with her players remotely and is currently planning on regular training sessions under England Netball’s current guidelines.

Stembridge โ€“ a graduate of UK Sportโ€™s prestigious Elite Coach Programme and Senior Lecturer in Sport Coaching & Performance at Cardiff Metropolitan University โ€“ says it has been a challenging few months but also an opportunity for growth and development.

During UK Coaching Week, she said: “We have to evolve, adapt and be flexible as coaches, and this year has certainly tested us to the max. We are always learning as coaches and I have seen the last few months as an opportunity to develop new techniques and approaches.”

Dan Ryan gives Leeds Rhinos insight

Leeds Rhinos Netballโ€™s High Performance Director and Superleague Head Coach Dan Ryan gave an in-depth insight in his side’s off-season preparations.

In a 10-minute interview with Rhinos Netball TV, Ryan spoke of recruiting an ‘exciting team’ in really challenging circumstances ahead of the Superleague debut in February 2021.

The former Manchester Thunder coach touched upon topics such as the signing window, the introduction of their full-time programme, and providing a team for local young players.

Ryan said: “It’s been a really busy time in the last couple of months to be honest. We’re really looking forward to be rolling out our full-time programme. A lot of work has been happening and it’s getting closer to the fun stuff beginning which we can’t wait for.”

Superleague Social: Celtic Dragons

In the sixth episode of Superleague Social, we spoke with Celtic Dragons players Abby Tyrell and Sophie Morgan in our new slot on Wednesday at 6:00pm.

The pair have been part of the Dragons set-up for a few years and spoke highly of the club during the 15-minute programme.

They both spoke about travelling to training, possible rule changes in netball, and their outstanding Fast5 All Stars campaign last year.

After you’ve finished, you can watch the full series of Superleague Social. Check out our episodes with London Pulse, Loughborough Lightning, Strathclyde Sirens, Surrey Storm and Saracens Mavericks here.

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