The England U19 squad have taken to the outdoor courts in Botswana in their most recent clashes against the national side and the temperature has been increasing on and off the court.
On Monday Jan Crabtree’s team played in their first contest at the National Stadium, which is an outdoor venue, as the thermometer was heading towards the high 20s in terms of Celsius. Umbrellas were the order of the day on the bench in an attempt to keep the searing sun at bay.
The intense heat failed to stifle the intensity on court. England were fantastic throughout and managed to get the better of their opponents in a 53-37 success. It was also a great chance to test the adaptability and the fitness of the squad as they played in a completely new environment and on a new surface.
An exchange of ideas between the two sets of coaches followed in the evening as Jan and Denise Ellis met with the Botswana senior coach and took him through video analysis captured from the earlier match. With World Cup qualifiers coming up for his side in September, it wasn’t long before the head coach was putting what he had learned into practice.
The chance to correct the errors for Botswana was swiftly supplied as the two teams met once again the following day. Another highly competitive contest saw England close out a thoroughly professional 42-34 victory.
It was an incredibly close contest as the African nation started the game well and were able to hang onto the coat tails of England for the first half, trailing by just one with the score at 19-18 at the interval.
Once again the sun was an issue with temperatures even higher than the previous day which tested the endurance of the squad. The glare was also posing issues for the shooters. However, the U19s demonstrated patience, composure and resilience to take the game. Fran Williams was particularly impressive in the defensive third as England continued their unbeaten streak.
On the agenda for the squad today is a fixture against the Botswana Tertiary Students Sports Association (BOTESSA). This is the equivalent of a university side and will provide BOTESSA with some competitive action ahead of a competition they participate in Zambia next week.
The hospitality continues to be incredible for the travelling squad and they are being treated to a traditional Braai BBQ complete with African music this evening as the tour heads towards its conclusion.
It has also been noted that the level of the umpiring and match bench officials has been of a good and consistent standard throughout the tour. You can follow updates from all of the England Netball performance teams by liking us on facebook and following us on twitter.