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Coleg y Cymoedd netball stars take on tough international opposition

Cymoedd blacks and Trinity House resulted in a nail-biting draw

Teen players from Welsh college netball’s champions-elect team, Coleg y Cymoedd, have taken on some of the best rising talent from South Africa in a hotly anticipated showdown.

The college’s first team, Cymoedd Blacks, which is on track to win this year’s Association of Colleges (AOC) Sports Wales Netball league, took on South Africa’s renowned Trinity House Randpark Ridge squad in a friendly game yesterday.

Having provided several internationals to the South African netball team, which beat Wales at last year’s Netball World Cup in Cape Town, Trinity House is widely regarded as one of the best teams in country, currently ranking at number 5 in the world.

The match at the Coleg y Cymoedd campus in Nantgarw came following a challenge by the Johannesburg-based private school, which was on the hunt for a Welsh college squad to compete against. Upon arriving in Wales and looking for a worthy opponent, the touring team was continuously recommended by other teams to test its mettle against Coleg y Cymoedd who they deemed best college netball team currently playing in the Welsh league.

Results in the friendly came in at a nail-biting 49-49 draw, with Cymoedd putting on a tough challenge for the South African team.

Cymoedd Black captain, Mileta Mitchell, said: “Having already proven ourselves as the best team in the country, it’s been thrilling to test ourselves against international opposition. Along with tonight’s celebrations after a successful season, today’s game has been a highlight of the year.

“We knew this was going to be a tough game against such a strong side, however we held up as best we could and gave them everything we’ve been working on in training for the last seven months. We showed strength after strength tonight with the girls demonstrating their trust and confidence in each other, and this game will only take us onwards and upwards. Big appreciation to South Africa for being such a skilled, hardworking team and giving us a clean hard-fought game resulting in one of the closest draws we’ve ever played.”

Trinity House coach Simphiwe Sithebe said: “I just want to say that we came in here with an open mind. We wanted to practice and work our combinations and to gel as a team. We were so happy to compete with Coleg y Cymoedd. It was an amazing game. Thank you to our opposition for a beautiful game!”

Following the game against the South African players, both the Coleg y Cymoedd (firsts) Cymoedd  Black and (seconds) Cymoedd Green teams, were honoured for a fantastic season with a celebratory evening attended by key names in sport including Mel Tuckwell, the former Welsh senior netball coach and University of South Wales (USW) Senior Lecturer as well as Jayne Ludlow, the former Wales Women’s football manager, Manchester City coach and current Head of Sport at USW.

The Cymoedd Black first team is currently in first place in the AOC Wales Netball league, with just two games left to play, including a triangular fixture against Crosskeys and Neath on the 10th of April.

Guaranteed to finish no lower than third, Cymoedd Greens is hoping to take home the second spot in the league as the season is set to end next week with a game against Coleg Sir Gâr.

Ahead of the game between Cymoedd Black and Trinity House, Cymoedd Green took on a team of new recruits who’ll make up Coleg y Cymoedd’s Female Academy teams next season. The Female Academy, which is run in partnership with the University of South Wales and provides both netball and rugby programmes, offers learners aged 16 to 18 practical and theory-based teaching and training from leading strength and conditioning experts as well as experienced coaches. These include former Welsh rugby union player, Gareth Wyatt, and former Wales rugby and netball international Lowri Noket-Morgan.

Speaking about the South African friendly, former Welsh senior netball coach Mel Tuckwell said – “It’s been great to catch a glimpse of the future of Welsh netball today at Coleg y Cymoedd in Nantgarw. The experience has enabled me to not only see the best college team in Wales go up against South Africa’s best, but also witness next year’s Academy recruits going up against the also very successful Cymoedd Greens. You can see how the Academy offering and the facilities here are reaping dividends. The future’s looking very, very bright for netball at Coleg-y-Cymoedd.”

The Coleg y Cymoedd Female Academy is based at Coley y Cymoedd’s newly opened Centre of Sporting Excellence in Nantgarw, a multi-million-pound sports training and teaching facility which opened last year. Designed to improve learners’ abilities in a variety of sports, the centre provides state-of-the-art performance training facilities and academic teaching all on one site.

The Centre primarily houses Sports and Public Services learners along with the college’s high-performance sports academies. Learners undertaking fitness instructor and personal training qualifications also benefit from the facilities.