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Williams singles out special Fans’ Player of the Season award

Fran Williams was the clear winner of NSL awards season but the recognition of the fans meant the most.

Alongside her winner’s medal from the Netball Super League Grand Final, the Loughborough Lightning goal defence took home Player of the Match and Fans’ Player of the Season gongs. 

It is the latter award that Williams was particularly proud of, recognised by supporters for a stellar season. 

This one is even more special than Player of the Match in the final in some ways,” the 25-year-old said. “To know that the fans are behind me and backing me, that is really special.  

“They make our game. Credit to them for the support they have given the league this season, they have been epic and we have really felt that as players.” 

Williams was the clear winner of the award, but when reflecting on her season, she was quick to move the focus to her teammates. 

The defensive end helped turn the tide for Loughborough Lightning in their Grand Final against London Pulse, with Alice Harvey more than up to the challenge of marking Olivia Tchine and Berri Neil.

Jasmin Odeogberin and Beth Cobden both had impact as they played a half each at wing defence, with Zan Vimbela making a late cameo in place of Harvey. 

But none shone as brightly as Williams, who was also recognised as the goal defence in the All Star VII, as she produced 10 turnovers, six deflections and four interceptions in the Final.

With Williams deflecting the praise away from herself, it is up to her teammates and coaches to explain what has made her 2023 campaign so great. 

“She’s been the glue for us, when we need to win ball, she gets it,” Loughborough captain Nat Panagarry said.  

“I think she’s been fantastic this year, she has set herself up for an amazing summer. I’m super proud of her, the hard work that she’s put in behind the scenes on last year to this year.  

“She’s an amazing person, as a player she leads us massively off the court as well and I’m super happy to have her in our club, so hopefully she’ll be with us next year as well.” 

Williams, who now has three Super League titles to her name, has fought her way back into England contention valiantly, going from missing out on the 2022 Commonwealth Games squad to a sure selection for this summer’s Netball World Cup.

The former Wasps player has adopted a holisitic approach to revolutionising her game and has not been afraid of tough conversations with head coach Vic Burgess. 

“She’s taken on board a lot of feedback around her movement, being brave to challenge ball, running her feet through ball,” Burgess explained. “She certainly listened to that and she’s applied it well.  

“Her connection with Alice and Jas, Beth, Nat, and whoever is in front of her, they work together really well and set up things for each other for them to get onto ball.  

 

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A post shared by Francesca Williams (@franwilliams11)

“She’s got a lot of ball out of that because she puts the work in, she works ridiculously hard, extra sessions in the gym, linking up with our S&C.” 

With the Netball Super League title under Williams’ belt, who knows what awards will be flying back from South Africa with her.

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