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Chatterbox Sanders using more than just her voice at Sirens

Credit: Chris Fairweather

Strathclyde Sirens defender Millie Sanders jokingly admits that if she talked to a brick wall, it would talk back – but the Bolton-born ‘baller is using more than just her voice to demonstrate a growing maturity in the Netball Super League.

The 22-year-old grew up in the Manchester Thunder pathway and soon broke through to senior ranks.

She achieved the highest club accolade under Karen Greig and Tracey Neville during her debut season in the top flight as they won the 2022 title. But Sanders, then aged 20, was already striving for a new challenge.

A move across the Pennines followed to Leeds Rhinos and she then turned her attention to Glasgow where she would develop her game even further under Lesley MacDonald.

“It was so special to win the league in my first season, it was my home club,” she said.

“I’d watched Laura Malcom and Kerry Almond growing up so to have them on my team in defence with me as a unit was surreal. To win it in my first season, there was nothing like it.

“I knew I wanted to challenge myself going to Leeds, it was a big decision to make and I did a lot of growing up there.

“I also learned how bad the traffic is from Manchester to Leeds with the commute! I’m also quite a big personality in the sense of making friends, I’ll talk to a wall and it’ll talk back to me.

“I’m definitely one of the big personalities at Sirens so for me the decision to move was based around the netball rather than who’s there or who I already know.”

But there was another key reason why Scotland’s largest city called – family connections.

The former Bury Netball Club youngster splits her time between her hometown and a four-hour drive to The Emirates Arena, staying with her brother Jack, who plays for Ayr United on loan from Kilmarnock.

Credit: @paulsaro_photography

The pair have been competitive for as long as Sanders can remember, which fuels her drive to become the best she can be on the court.

“We can’t play board games without someone falling out or accusing someone of cheating so it has its ups and downs,” she joked.

“Even when we’re in the gym and I’m on a treadmill next to him, we’ll be keeping an eye on each other and putting the speed up to match what the other is doing.

“I’m so close with my mum and dad too and I feel like I owe all my success to them, I feel like I wouldn’t be where I am without them.

“They’ve sacrificed so much for me and my brother – weeknights, weekends and driving us everywhere.

“With netball, there are definitely ups and downs and sometimes that’s what people don’t see.

“My parents are my number one fans and I’m so grateful that they’ve been behind me every step of the way.”

Sanders had always been a goal keeper when she started out but was soon moulded into a wing defence further up the court at Thunder.

Under Sirens’ Macdonald, versatile Sanders gives her all to any bib she is given as she looks ahead to becoming a regular fixture in her side’s defensive set-up.

 

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Alongside experienced captain Emily Nicholl on the line, Sanders insists the progress the club has made is paying dividends on and off court.

“It’s definitely challenging at times but I’ll do anything to get on court so give me a goal attack bib and I’ll give it a good crack,” she said.

“I take every day as it comes. I’m at a stage where I’m really enjoying my netball and you play your best netball when you’re enjoying it. I just want to play in a starting seven and play the best that I can.

“We’re a new group of people and we’re all there for the same goals, we’re all just trying to establish everyone’s different styles of play.”

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