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Manchester Thunder Sign 16-year-old Shooting Star Anya Williams

In a meteoric rise, pathway product Anya Williams caught the attention of head coach Karen Greig following eye-catching performances for England in the 2023 Commonwealth Youth Games. Since winning a bronze medal in Trinidad & Tobago, Williams has put pen to paper for her debut season in the 2024 Netball Super League.

The talented youngster has worked her way up the Manchester Thunder Pathway where she has shown aptitude and capability, resulting in her landing her a spot in the 2024 Manchester Thunder squad. This exciting new signing welcomes upcoming talent and mixed with other more experienced players will present a powerful season ahead.

Williams journey with Thunder started with her playing up for the U15 school games in 2021, where she went on to join the U19 Manchester NPL squad with her flair for shooting standing out to Thunder. Williams also plays for YWCA Bury Netball Club who were crowned National Club division two winners in 2022.

Williams looked back at her netball journey and said, “I started playing netball when I was eight years old for a club called Phoenix, and I think there were only five of us. When I was shooting after my mum’s game of netball, a Bury coach came up to me and asked me to go to a training session. I didn’t really know much about netball, they put me at centre, and I dribbled the ball from the centre circle to the post and shot because I’d only ever watched my dad play basketball and it’s just grown since then.”

Williams may not have played in the Netball Super League yet, but she has certainly cemented herself in the England Roses Academy. She was called up for the U17 squad for the 21/22 & 22/23 seasons, taking part in Netball Europe achieving first place in both.

She added, “Playing with England Netball has helped me with confidence on and off court because I wouldn’t speak to people who I played with on court, outside of netball. I feel like making new friends and being part of something bigger than yourself is what they have really helped me with. In Trinbago, I’ve never really been abroad so to do that with a team I love was surreal.”

Karen Greig, Franchise Director and Head Coach said: “At just 16, I really believe Anya is one of the most exciting natural talents. I’m delighted that we can promote her from our pathway and give her this opportunity to really hone her natural abilities and start to develop at a senior level and feel that week in week out pressure of playing in the NSL. I’m excited to work with her and see how she grasps this challenge.”

Off the court, Williams will be attending college completing her three A-levels. Williams explained, “Having a schedule is the main thing that keeps me in check, and coaches definitely help with juggling the training aspect and school.” When asked about what her friends think of the opportunity she said, “I don’t think my friends understand how hard it is to play up, they just think it’s like school netball but it’s completely different.”

When talking about the upcoming season, Williams concluded, “I’m hoping to grow as a player and take it all in really. It’s definitely a privilege, to be so young and be part of the 12, it’s a big step up from playing pathway to NSL. I’m really nervous, but at the same time excited.”

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