BARROWFORD’S Natalie Haythornthwaite will proudly lead out the Great Britain netball team at the World University Games in South Africa next week.
The Yorkshire Jets wing attack travelled with the British party to Cape Town on Wednesday for the games, which begin on Monday.
And the 19-year-old is thrilled by the prospect: “It’s the first year netball has been in the games, and to play in the first championship is amazing.
“It’s a huge tournament and being made captain makes it even more special - it’s great that the girls have faith in me, and hopefully we can realise our full potential in South Africa.”
The former Fisher-More pupil, originally from Salterforth, is studying speech therapy at Leeds Metropolitan University in a Linguistics and Phonetics BA, balancing her studies with playing for the Jets - formerly Leeds Carnegie - in the FIAT Netball Superleague.
She was first introduced to the sport when her mother took her along to a fun day, where her talent was spotted by Ribble Valley Netball Club, and she has been involved at internartional level since she was 14.
She made the first team in the Superleague with Leeds Carnegie aged only 16, and was selected for the England Under 19s short squad which won the European Championships, and enjoyed a subsequent tour of Australia.
This season, Natalie helped the Yorkshire Jets finish sixth in their first ever Superleague campaign.
An England Excel Under 21 international, Natalie attended trials for the GB University team - the first British netball team put together since 1995 -at the EIS in Sheffield in April with all the home nations present, and earned a place in a 15-strong squad, which was whittled down to 12.
The squad then took part in the British Invitational Tournament in Glasgow in May, and two training camps in Bath followed, before the squad flew out this week for the inaugural World University Netball Championship - one of 28 sports at the 25th World University Championships, which are held every two years.