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Hoop dreams: Jade Clarke

Jade Clarke England Netball

Netballer Jade Clarke tells us about playing for England.

How old were you when you started playing netball?

Jade Clarke: I started at the age of nine. I loved all sports at school – you can’t beat the feeling of competing in a team. I played for Trafford and Oldham netball club growing up. Mike Greenwood, my coach at Oldham, was a huge influence for me; he was tough, an ex-Army man and we all played our hearts out for him. He died seven years ago and he’s a legend of the netball community.

When you were younger, who was your sporting hero?

Netball wasn’t on TV when I was younger but I loved watching athletics. Sally Gunnell and Colin Jackson were my favourites. At the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi our coach Anna Stembridge arranged for Dame Kelly Holmes to give us a team talk and I was reading her book at the time. We were all so starstruck! She’s definitely a hero of mine and I love all the work she does to raise awareness of mental health.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Not too surprisingly my highlight is the Commonwealth Games. It really was a fairytale ending and I get a huge sense of pride whenever I think about it. I’ve been on the England team since 2002 so it’s been a long road of ups and downs. I’ve cried a lot of tears to my family along the way so it was really nice to come home and show them a gold medal.

What were the post-final celebrations like?

We talked up a good game of how much we’d party if we won gold. However everyone was so, so exhausted. We hired out an area for all our friends and family to get together after the game so it was quite civilised.

What are your hopes for the 2019 netball World Cup which is being hosted here?

I hope that after the success of the CWG that the interest continues to the World Cup. So many more people watched the final than we’d ever anticipated and there was such a great reaction when we got home. A home World Cup is special, there’s nothing like wearing the red dress in front of our home crowd and we hope we can do them proud.

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