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The First Interview: Drakeford-Lewis prepares for first day at new club

Moving to a new Vitality Netball Superleague club is a bit like joining a new school, but luckily for Sophie Drakeford-Lewis she will have a familiar face on her first day. 

The attacker has been announced as Surrey Storm’s latest signing, following Layla Guscoth in making the move from last season’s semi-finalists Team Bath. 

And the 23-year-old has title ambitions for her new club, who finished seventh in the 2022 table with eight wins. 

“Obviously, it’s going to be a big change for me, having been at Bath for the last five seasons,” the Vitality Rose said. 

“To know I’m going into an environment with one of my really good friends in Layla, it’s quite settling.

“It’s really exciting that we can go in there and hopefully add to the group that has already been building over the last season.  

“I’m excited to see what we can put together. Obviously, we’re aiming for finals and hopefully a shot at taking the title.  

“Hopefully, we’ll put in the hard work during the pre-season, grow over the season and put ourselves in the best position to be making finals.” 

Drakeford-Lewis spent her summer with England, helping them to a fourth-place finish at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. 

And while the news of Guscoth’s move took plenty in the netball world by surprise, the Roses were already clued up. 

She added: “I did know before the announcement went out, I think a lot of the Roses girls knew where everyone’s popping up. 

“We were all going through that period whilst we were in the Roses set-up during the summer in preparation for the Commonwealths.  

“We all knew where each other was going, but it’s nice now that it’s public knowledge and I just can’t wait to get started.” 

Drakeford-Lewis joined Team Bath from Saracens Mavericks in 2018 as she completed a degree in Integrated Mechanical & Electrical Engineering at the University of Bath.

And while she and defender Guscoth will be able to continue their strong partnership across the court, Drakeford-Lewis highlighted playing alongside Proscovia Peace in the shooting circle as a pivotal reason for her move.

“There were a lot of factors I had to consider,” she said. “I’ve had a great five years down at Team Bath, four as a student and one last year as a full-time athlete.

“I thought I just needed a bit of a change and so when the opportunity came around to go to Surrey Storm, it was one I couldn’t really look past.

“And the prospect of playing in such an exciting team with the likes of Peace, and the other really experienced mid-courters, was really enticing.

“She’s such a prolific shooter and she’s shown how amazing she is both in the Super League also in Australia and the SSN and for Uganda, most recently. 

“I’ve always looked up to how dominant she is in the circle, and I can’t wait to see what we can put together in that circle and hopefully score a lot of goals for Surrey Storm this season.” 

Formerly a strong junior tennis player, Drakeford-Lewis has highlighted the retiring Serena Williams as an inspiration to her on the tennis court. 

Former England netball captain Pamela Cookey was also an idol for the young goal attack, while outside of netball, heptathlete Denise Lewis inspired the sports-mad youngster.

Drakeford-Lewis spent the summer having Cookey commentate on her England matches while Lewis, in her role as Commonwealth Games England president, made a special trip to watch England play. 

She said: “When Denise came and visited us in our changing room after our second game at the Commonwealth Games, it was a pretty surreal moment, and she came and wanted a photo with us all.  

“It was so great to see how just down to earth she is, how she loves netball and wants everyone to be successful in whatever they are doing. That was so great to hear.  

“Pam commentates on us a lot and the first time she commentated was quite surreal as well, because one of the main players I watched growing up was now commentating on how I was playing on court. 

“I guess that’s what happens in elite sport and I hope we’ll be doing the same for girls that are coming through now.”

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