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Legends reflect on the Super League to date and look ahead to 2025

As one chapter ends and another begins, four legends who remember the very start of the Netball Super League (NSL) back in 2005 and have fascinating insights into the 19 years of the league and what the future holds recently spoke to 5TH QTR, the England Netball member-exclusive magazine.

Maggie Jackson MBE was co-founder of Hertfordshire Mavericks, former Head Coach of Mavericks and led the Club to six Grand Finals, including their two titles, in 2008 and 2011.

Maggie is also a former England player and participated in the 1985 World Games and the 1987 Netball World Tournament in Glasgow. She was England’s Assistant Head Coach at the 2006 and 2010 Commonwealth Games, as well as at the 2011 Netball World Cup in Singapore, winning bronze at all three tournaments.

Discussing how the Super League came about, she said: “I think as now, we were asking what does England Netball need to be number one in the world?

“I’ve been involved in so many bronze medal matches that I don’t want to even think about it now! We’d always been third, sometimes fourth. So how could we make that next step? And Super League was part of that.”

While the athletes were striving to be their best on the domestic and international stages, that simply wouldn’t have been possible without a whole network of coaches, support staff, fans, volunteers and officials helping – and continue to help – make the game.

Jackie Mizon has been an umpiring stalwart of the NSL since 2012 and umpired well over 150 matches. She umpired five Grand Finals in the space of seven years and is now Officiating Assessor for the league.

Reflecting on how she was inspired when the NSL started, Jackie commented: “I can remember watching games, following the officials and never being able to work out how they moved like that because it looked so effortless. Of course, they’re all the skills an umpire learns – it’s all about vision.

“I retired as an umpire in 2019 and what I see now is just unrecognisable from when I started in 2012.

The growth is immense, even just from 2019 to the current day.

“They are amazing athletes, truly amazing athletes. And I think that’s important because for us to grow and continue to grow and succeed, we’ve got to be good to watch. We’ve got to be exciting.”

A lot has changed since the league first began with the most recent marker of its successful development being the 2024 Grand Final which recorded the highest-ever ticket sales for a season finale.

“I think the crowds stayed roughly the same for a long time, although now you’ve got some bigger venues, which is great, and obviously that’s the key thing going forward.

“We had Televideo working with us in the early days but social media has obviously become massive, as are the deals with Sky and now the BBC.

The whole sport is so much more available these days.

And seven-time Super League winner Pamela Cookey echoes those thoughts.

Pamela played with Team Bath in the Netball Super League at the competition’s inception in 2005, winning two titles in 2005-06 and 2008-09, before heading to New Zealand to play for Northern Mystics. She then joined Surrey Storm in 2015.

Adding to Maggie’s comments, she said: “The more people enjoy seeing it [the NSL], the more they can take out of it, the more they want to follow it and invest in it. I’ve definitely seen that shift over the years.

“As a player and fan, I think [NSL 2025] could be awesome if everything that’s been talked about comes to fruition.

“The fact that the salaries are going up, we are looking to fill arenas and make it a real spectacle on all fronts, makes me really excited.”

Serena Kersten (née Guthrie) was a teammate of Pamela; she played for Team Bath from 2007-15, then went to play overseas in New Zealand and Australia for four seasons before returning to Team Bath from 2019-22.

The simple reason why Serena returned to the NSL? “I just love English netball!

“I’ve always been a strong believer that we had and have the potential to be a real powerhouse in terms of style if we get it right because we can be a hybrid league where you’ve got a range of styles.

“There’s more flex, more flair, a bit more potential to be more creative with the style of play that we have in British netball. So I wanted to try and be a part of that.”

And now a significant step towards the professionalisation of the league has been taken with eight successful teams, including six existing clubs and two new entities, set to propel the NSL forward from next season following the completion of a tender process.

Looking ahead to the future, Serena said: “We had this growth period and now is the right time from a commercial point of view to take the game to a different space.

“And I think the model will drive a lot of attention – in the first year there are going to be a lot of eyes on the league.

“And the pressure on players is going to increase, they’re going to be required to make sure that this product is as competitive as it can be.”

But we’re not starting from ground zero, we are starting from an exciting space and there is a solid foundation that’s been built for the game over the last 20 years.

Access the full interviews with Maggie, Jackie, Serena and Pamela in the summer edition of 5TH QTR, the England Netball member-exclusive magazine. If you’re a current EN member and haven’t received your email, check your preferences via the link in the footer of any EN member email you’ve received. Interested in becoming an EN member? Use the Club Finder to locate a club near you.

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