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The Women's Sports Alliance


Geva Mentor: England Netball legend on her international legacy

“We talk about inspiring the next generation, but it's also inspiring the nation to get behind us,” Commonwealth champion Geva Mentor tells the WSA. “We’re now starting to see success and a real swell of support which is really driving the sport where we want it to go!”

Image courtesy of England Netball

With a historic World Cup silver medal secured and new plans to professionalise the domestic game, netball in England has never been in a stronger position.

Geva Mentor has witnessed the sport’s development unfold at the highest level for the last two decades; and what a career it has been.

Six World Cups – (four medals), six Commonwealth Games (three medals, inc. gold in 2018) and 175 England caps makes her one of the most decorated players in her nation’s history.

At the age of 39 Geva insists she is still far from finished with the sport – and is returning to England to line-up for Leeds Rhinos come the new season in 2024.

She has though now stepped down from international duty and following England’s historic World Cup success the legendary player has spoken at length with the Women’s Sports Alliance about the legacy she hopes to have left behind.

Geva Mentor - the interview:

Image courtesy of England Netball

Q – How did it feel to compete in the World Cup final in your last-ever international before officially stepping away from your time with the team?

“First and foremost, it's very humbling,” Geva tells the WSA.

“It's a bittersweet to have a lost in my last-ever Roses dress and that is tough as I’m a really competitive person, but to take the bigger picture into perspective, we were able to go where no Roses team before us has gone.

“This group is super special and I will be firmly supporting the Roses’ programme where I can over the years and hopefully we're able to do one better, but for me personally I’m just so grateful.

“It's a privilege to be able to play for over 24 years, to be able to go to six Commonwealth Games and six World Cups and I don't take anything for granted.”

Q – You have experienced life with so many players and team-mates since your debut with Team Bath back in 2021. What made this current England team so special?

“My first World Cup was back in 2003 and through all the way to my six one (in 2023) each team I’ve been part of has been building and evolving, but this year has been a real breakthrough.

“There’s always been confidence, but over the last 18 months that has really stepped up and having so many girls now playing out in Australia and New Zealand and knowing we can run it with some of the best the best players in the world makes a difference.

“What we managed to achieve in 2018 (England’s first-ever Commonwealth Netball title), really instilled that belief into the young group coming through.

“Now you have a group where some are in their first World Cup and they’ve reached a gold medal final and I think that just proves the generations coming up beyond us are setting themselves up to be top contenders for many years to come.”

Image courtesy of England Netball

Q – What would you say have been the biggest changes you’ve witnessed within the game over the last two decades?

“Definitely one of the standout things now is the well-being around players psychology that we put into performance.

“It's not just about how strong we are in the gym, how quick we are on the court and our skill level, it's really about that holistic approach, it’s making sure that we're mentally strong and able to withstand the highs and lows that sport definitely throws at you.

“It’s that belief that we have within players which puts us in a positive place going forward into the future because when I first came on the scene we used to get beaten by Australia and New Zealand by about 30 goals.

“Now we're riding with them and beating them in major events and the more we normalise competing with the best in the world the more we believe we’re also the best in the world.”

Q – You have played domestically for the majority of your career down in the Southern Hemisphere where there are professional opportunities within the game. How much of a difference does that make and what impact could professionalism have in the UK?

“I’ve been able to reach a ‘professional level’ playing out in Australis for the last 15 years in the Super Netball, which is a professional setup where I know it’s my main, sole purpose.

“Every decision I make away from the netball court is to make sure that I perform well at the weekend and that’s something we’re trying to do in England with the Super League and trying to make it professional so those behaviours are instilled from a young age.

“I think that's a difference I notice from being out in Australia for so long, where girls grow up in that environment, knowing netball can be their career.

“Then coming back into England, players might be a teacher, lawyer, doctor or whatever as their main income and netball in on the side, so we need to create a pathway that is as professional as possible.

“There's obviously scope to look to move it professional in 2025 and beyond which is great, but I think every facet of the game needs to be looked at.

“We’re not just what we're doing as athletes but also the officiating of the game because ee can't improve and get better as athletes unless we have the officials supported.

“Whether through endorsements, sponsorship and that will help grow our sport and help make it a first choice, so we have other nations coming in and wanting to be part of our Super League in that professional space.”

Image courtesy of @gevamentor

Q – You’re retiring from international netball, but are still planning to play domestically and we’ll see you return to the UK next season for the first time since 2010!

“I feel like I'm still in some very good form and I want to make sure that I'm still contributing to the sport in the best way possible.

“I've been so supported by the English fan base throughout my career from overseas and so it's nice to not only come back and connect with community, but it's also going to be good to see what I can do at Super League level.

“So, I'm very much looking forward to something about playing for Leeds Rhinos next season!”

Image courtesy of England Netball / @gevamentor

Q – What advice do you have for girls and women out there who see you as a role model and aspire to be a champion of the sport like yourself?

“Everyone will have their own journey and I think that's completely fine that your path doesn't have to follow someone that you'd be aspiring to be, or has been a role model for years, so my most important advice is just stay true to yourself.

“Don't shy away from whatever comes at you, sport can definitely throw you through some highs and lows and it's just remembering to stay true to yourself but also be open and collaborative with those around you.

“For me, it's being able to have that growth mindset and then you're always gonna be able to be adapt.”

Q – How optimistic are you about the future of netball?

“There are so many people that are very passionate about our sport, men and women and they're the drivers.

“It offers something very different, obviously being very female focused and that's probably our ‘point of difference’ in the market is that we've got some fantastic role models that can really push the future generations.

“I think the real unique position now, is that we're not trying to fight for any limelight against any other female sports, there's definitely room out there for every single female code and sport.”

Image courtesy of England Netball / @gevamentor

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