Vitality Netball Superleague: Sam Bird thrilled to announce dynamic London Pulse squad | Netball News

Sam Bird is thrilled with the squad she has signed for the 2022 Vitality Netball Superleague season (Image credit - Ben Lumley)

Sam Bird is thrilled with the squad she has signed for the 2022 Vitality Netball Superleague season (Image credit – Ben Lumley)

Jasmin Odeogberin, Berri Neil and Alicia Scholes have all made the move to London Pulse, as Sam Bird announces a talented roster for the 2022 Vitality Netball Superleague season.

The trio of Vitality Netball Superleague athletes are three of the five new faces within London Pulse’s squad for the forthcoming season.

Tayla Honey and Sacha McDonald also arrive, swapping Suncorp Super Netball and the Melbourne Vixens training environment for the Vitality Netball Superleague and Pulse.

Funmi Fadoju, Halimat Adio, Lindsay Keable and Ellie Rattu are amongst a group of 10 returnees as Pulse set their sights on driving their standards on and off the court.

London Pulse’s 2022 Vitality Netball Superleague Squad

Halimat Adio Funmi Fadoju Lindsay Keable
Peace Akinyemi (training partner) Jasmin Odeogberin Zara Everitt
Ashleigh Dekker Ellie Rattu Tayla Honey
Alicia Scholes (training partner) Isabel Stibbs (training partner) Kira Rothwell
Olivia Tchine Berri Neal Sacha McDonald

“We’re looking at really extending the performance environment at London Pulse and continuing to create a world-class performance environment for our athletes,” Bird, who will be joined by Performance Director Lisa Alexander, said.

“We believe that we have a large number of the most highly talented elite netballers and future elite netballers in the country.

“A lot of them are from London too, and it’s inspirational and a privilege for us as staff to be working with them and giving these players the best environment possible at London Pulse.

“London has such a rich tapestry of talent; it’s the most diverse city in the UK and we have over 30 languages spoken within our club.

“We have an amazing group of diverse people and that’s part of our strength.

“We’re excited to bring all of these athletes, with their different individual strengths and cultural heritage together. It makes London Pulse a really exciting place to be.”

London Pulse – Defenders

Halimat Adio Funmi Fadoju
Lindsay Keable Zara Everitt
Jasmin Odeogberin Peace Akinyemi (training partner)

Returning into Pulse’s defensive unit are last year’s co-captain Adio, training partner Peace Akinyemi, the highly experienced Keable, Zara Everitt of the Roses Futures programme and one of the standout players of the 2021 season Fadoju.

In addition to that group, Odeogberin has arrived from Loughborough Lightning.

“London Pulse is Jasmin’s home club as she started with us in NPL,” Bird said about the dynamic defender.

“So, it’s great to have her returning home. She’s on a placement year in London so we’re thrilled that she’s back.

“I watched her play a lot for Loughborough Lightning and have worked with her at England in the past. I was impressed with her work ethic during some athletic sessions during the summer.

“Jasmin has returned to us having developed physically and she’s an intelligent and confident young athlete.

“During her time with Loughborough she was able to learn from their more experienced players like Sam May and it’s brilliant to see her back with the players that she started her first London Pulse journey with.

London Pulse – Mid-courters

Ashleigh Dekker Ellie Rattu
Tayla Honey Alicia Scholes (training partner)
Isabel Stibbs (training partner)

Within the mid-court Ashleigh Dekker and Ellie Rattu are both back for more, having each had exceptional 2021 seasons and improved their performances throughout the 20 rounds of matches. Rattu earned a call up to the England U21 squad as a result.

Training partner Isabel Stibbs, whose work ethic and will to drive standards is hailed by Bird, will continue to be part of the Pulse environment and then two new faces arrive.

First, Alicia Scholes will become training partner as the first of two players swapping the black and yellow of Manchester Thunder for London Pulse.

Alicia Scholes looked at home on a Superleague court last season (Image credit - Ben Lumley)

Alicia Scholes looked at home on a Superleague court last season (Image credit – Ben Lumley)

The exciting WA, who shone when she was handed court time with Thunder, impressed Bird during their very first training session together.

In Bird’s words, Scholes is a “fantastic, young mid-courter” and working alongside players she knows already from England U21s should make her feel right at home.

Then, Honey is swapping Suncorp Super Netball for the Vitality Netball Superleague as one of London Pulse’s two import players.

“Tayla is a WA-C from the Melbourne Vixens,” Bird said. “She’s very quick and just a little bit older than most of our squad at 24-years-old, so she brings that extra bit of experience.

“She’s got a typically Australian style to her; she’s a hard, direct and fast netball player.

“Tayla has been in the Vixens training environment for a few years which means that she’s used to working at an extremely elite level and at a very high intensity. We can’t wait for her to bring that to Pulse.”

London Pulse – Shooters

Kira Rothwell Olivia Tchine
Berri Neil Sacha McDonald

Within Pulse’s shooting circle, Bird has retained both Kira Rothwell and Olivia Tchine from the 2021 squad, and they will be joined by the franchise’s final two signings.

“Olivia is someone who I rate highly and she’s going to have the room to gain a lot of court time over the course of the 2022 season and be a dominant shooter for us.

“I believe Olivia is capable of having a fantastic season and we’re going to give her every opportunity to shine.

“Kira has been with the club for the whole of her professional netball career and she’s so committed to the club. She’s on a work placement from university this year in London, so it’s great that she’ll be London based.”

Alexander joins London Pulse as performance director

Lisa Alexander has been appointed as London Pulse’s performance director and joins CEO Sam Bird at the helm of the Vitality Netball Superleague franchise.

The first of Bird’s new shooters, like Scholes, comes from Manchester Thunder and it’s Berri Neil.

“Berri is another England U21 shooter. She’s an outstanding young athlete who is moving down to London and together with Scholes will be living in a club apartment.

“I’ve worked with her at England and she’s a great talent. I think that in Pulse’s environment – where she knows a lot of the other players through England training – should mean that she really thrives.”

Bird’s final shooter is Sacha McDonald, who also making the move from Australia to London having been with the Melbourne Vixens.

“Sacha is a GA/GS/WA and she’s another very exciting player. She’s played for Australia’s U21s side and again, she’ll bring attacking dynamism to that shooting group and I’m thrilled to bring her in.”

In essence every shooter on the roster plays at international level.

As a unit, like during the 2021 season, Pulse are largely a young group. However, they have experienced players in every area of the court and the powerful combination of Bird and Alexander leading them.

From the moment Bird arrived at London Pulse, her players have spoken about the level of support they receive from her. Throughout the pandemic she was on hand constantly and when netball returned, she’s continued to be there for them on a professional, academic and personal basis.

Alexander’s years at the top of the game with Australia means that she knows exactly what it takes to be the best. Together, the duo agree that the season ahead is one that will bring about another step change for London Pulse.

“We want to bring a relentless pursuit of quality, to do everything as well as we can,” Bird said.

“As a team of staff, we want to make sure that every contact that we have with the players is one that challenges and develops them, so that it pushes them forwards and the club as a whole.

“Myself, Lisa and Fiona and all of the staff at Pulse just cannot wait to get started and work with this group week in and week out.

“It’s such a dynamic and hard-working group and amount of talent within it is phenomenal.

“As staff and coaches, we’re thrilled to be the ones that are going to have the privilege of bringing this group together and helping them to gel in a Superleague environment.

“There’s no doubting the quality of the players that we’ve got; it’s probably the most exciting roster that I’ve had in years.”

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