Undefeated Manchester Thunder say moving netball to professional status would be 'huge step forward'

Head coach Karen Greig and captain Laura Malcolm joined presenters Lucy Meacock, Gamal Fahnbulleh and David Chisnall in the studio.

The captain of the undefeated Manchester Thunder has said the sport moving to a professional status would be a "huge step forward" for netball in the UK.

It comes after the triumphant victory of the squad who clinched the 2022 Vitality Netball Superleague title - all without losing a single game.

The team claimed a 60-53 victory over last year's winners, Loughborough Lightning, in the Grand Final at London's Copper Box on Sunday, 5 June.

Millie Sanders, (right) catches the ball during the Vitality Netball Superleague Grand Final match. Credit: PA images

They went ahead in the first quarter and never looked back to go on to claim their fourth league title following championship wins in 2012, 2014 and 2019.

Head coach Karen Greig said she felt "pure joy" after her team's victory, with captain of the squad Laura Malcolm saying the "adrenaline is still going".

The growing support for the Superleague has sparked more conversation about the possibility of netball becoming a fully professional sport.

As an England international Laura believes players having the right amount of funding to be full-time athletes would be a "huge step forward" for netball in the UK.

She said: "For us Roses players, we've had the privilege to train full-time.

"We've had enough funding to be full-time athletes for a few years now and I've felt the difference with my game.

"My game has excelled over the last couple of years just being able to do that without having the stress of work.

"If the whole league could go that way I think it would be a massive step forward for our sport and it will be very exciting for people to be tuning in week-by-week to see these athletes play."

Manchester Thunder's Joyce Mvula celebrates their victory at the end of the match. Credit: PA images

The pair said they were concerned that they would not have the same support after the coronavirus pandemic.

But thankfully, they said the North West Superleague fans have been "amazing" and rallied behind them throughout the competition.

Attention now turns to the Commonwealth Games, which is taking place in June in Birmingham, with several Thunder players said to be taking part.

"My hands are sweating thinking about it", says Laura who will find out in the next few weeks if she's been selected for the England squad to defend the gold medal won under Tracey Neville in 2018.

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