Claire Nelson: UWS Sirens will challenge for 2018 Superleague
23rd November 2017
Thank you to Susan Egelstaff from the Herald Scotland for featuring our UWS Sirens Media Day in today’s press. You can read the full article below..
ONE thing you can never accuse Claire Nelson of is sleeping on the job. The CEO of Netball Scotland is the mastermind behind UWS Sirens, Scotland’s first-ever professional netball team, and having overseen the team finishing in sixth position in their debut season of the UK-wide Vitality Netball Superleague earlier this year, she is keen to push on from that in 2018.
Earlier this week, at the home of their new title sponsor UWS, Sirens unveiled their new roster of players, a 15-strong squad which includes a number of new signings including England internationalist Sara Bayman and Jamaican national team players Shantal Slater and Vanessa Walker to compliment the backbone of the team which is made up of Scots.
And with the season starting in February, the new signings have plenty of time to bed in and gel with the players who return from the 2017 squad..
While sixth place was a creditable position in which to finish last season, Nelson admits to being disappointed having believed UWS Sirens had the potential to climb further up the Superleague table and she is not shy in expressing her ambitions for the coming season.
“We learnt so much as a result of last year and I’m really excited about the squad we’ve pulled together this year,” she said. “Top four is my target – I want to get to the Grand Final but every other team do too so we know it will be a tough challenge. We’ve got a great squad, a fantastic coaching set-up and a good lead-in to the season so I have high expectations that the team is going to do really well over the coming year.”
A new head coach in the shape of Tanya Dearns, a former New Zealand internationalist, as well as the signings of players such as Bayman illustrate how keen Nelson is to ensure UWS Sirens are not content with merely maintaining their standing, rather they are in the Superleague with the intention of making life very uncomfortable for their rivals.
“It shows that we have the pull to attract some of the best players not only in the league but in the sport as a whole,” Nelson said. “I want the players to bring all their experience and use it to help shape UWS Sirens so that we can become not only the best franchise in the league but also in the world one day.”
One of the most impressive things about UWS Sirens last season was the team’s desire to work with children and use netball as a tool to engage with communities. The team’s ‘Sirens For Success’ programme, which is led by captain Claire Brownie, is designed to address barriers to participation for girls and despite Nelson’s desire to achieve success in the Superleague with UWS Sirens, she has not lost sight of how important the team can be in changing young girls lives for the better.
“This programme, for me, is one of the most important things we do,” she said. “There has been pockets of progress when it comes to women’s sport but it’s still not enough so driving messaging through UWS Sirens is so important for us. The results so far have been amazing and we know we’re really making a difference so we need to continue to do this because it’s so powerful.”