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The Netball cauldron

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Ahead of what is a re-match of last years Netball Superleague final on Saturday, we caught up with Manchester Thunder’s Sara Bayman and Surrey Storm’s
Sophia Candappa this week. For those that haven’t watched any Netball before it is a physical, end to end game that is great to watch. The Super League
is one of the top leagues in the world, following in the footsteps of world leaders ANZ. With central contracts coming in next year and Netball players
becoming full time it can only be good for the game in the UK.

Off the back of last year’s World Cup and the work the International Netball Federation are doing, the sport is seeing phenomenal growth in viewing, spectators
and participation around the world. In the UK Sky TV have increased the number of live games they have shown this year to add to their ongoing broadcasting
of the Superleague Netball in what has become record breaking season. More viewers and more tickets have been sold than ever before, culminating in
a sell-out final taking place at the Copper Box in the Olympic Park on Saturday. The two teams have had a great deal of rivalry all season being number
one and two in the table and having both beaten each other away. Having lost their title in 2014 Manchester Thunder are looking to regain their title
and Surrey Storm, the reigning Champions are looking to retain the title. Having Played each other in the 2014 final this is as juicy a final as you
could hope for.

As with so many sports the season comes down to one game, on one day and so the pressure on the athlete’s is immense especially when a 7,000 seater sold
out arena, with some of the most supportive and noisy fans of any sport are cheering on. It’s a cauldron that’s for sure and the players know it as
Sophia explained “You have trained week in week out since September, you have put in all of these hours and then it comes down to one game, this game,
so there is lots riding on it, a lot of pressure but also a lot of excitement”. When I asked Sara about nerves and how to manage such a final she said
“you are obviously going to have nerves but doing what you normally do in a pregame routine, making it consistent and making sure you enjoy it and
don't forget it is what you work for, what you want and not something to be scared of!” What I like is firstly the admission that there are nerves
rather than a cool “I don’t get nerves” response, it’s realistic and makes you warm to her, but also the clear message to enjoy it and interestingly
to not be afraid of the nerves to use them positively.

With both Sara and Sophia agreeing that the preparation for the final is very similar in both teams there is very little separating them at the end of
the day and so it will come down to who is, as Sara said “mentally tough enough to ride out the difficult patches of games because it is never plain
sailing”. The pressure is on for both teams and all the players as they walk on to the court, tune out the noise and focus on their game plans….

Sky Sports' season of netball concludes with live coverage of the Vitality Netball Super League Final on Saturday 7th May, Sky Sports 5, 4:30pm