The forgetful, the joker & the DJ – meet England Roses

The forgetful, the joker & the DJ - meet England Roses


Venue: Cape Town, South Africa Dates: 28 July to 6 August
Coverage: Watch live coverage across BBC TV and the BBC iPlayer, listen to commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live, 5 Sports Extra & BBC Sounds and follow text commentary of selected matches on the BBC Sport website and app.

When it comes to matches, it’s game faces on for the England Roses. But what are they like away from the court?

Who is the prankster? Who is the most forgetful? Who likes to get the party started? Who is the best person to go to for advice?

BBC Sport spoke to co-captains Natalie Metcalf and Layla Guscoth to get the inside track on their team-mates before the Netball World Cup starts in Cape Town, South Africa, on Friday.

‘The joker’ – Geva Mentor

Geva Mentor - goal keeper/goal defence, debut - 2001, caps - 167, first world cup - 2003

Guscoth: “Geva is a massive joker. She is the type of person that if you leave your notebook for a second she’ll be doodling all over your book, your stuff will end up somewhere it shouldn’t be.

“She’s a really open person, she’ll share everything with you she really cares about you and really wants to help everybody. She brings so much experience and knowledge to the group. But your notebooks will be safe when Geva is retired!”

Metcalf: “The first word I think of when I think of Geva is ‘cheeky’. She is like a big kid. She is someone who is happy to do her own thing at times, the chilled one and a really good person to go to for advice.”

‘Purest heart’ – Layla Guscoth

Layla Guscoth - goal defence/wing defence/goal keeper, debut - 201, caps - 52, first world cup - 2019

Metcalf: “Layla has one of the purest hearts – she will tell you not what you want to hear but what you need to hear and you need that in a friend and as a leader as well. She is very well thought-through and very solution-focussed. If you need advice, you go to Layla, she’s a very good sounding board.

“We obviously go to her with our medical issues as well as she’s a doctor!”

‘Party starter’ – Fran Williams

Fran Williams - goal defence/goal keeper, debut - 2018, caps - 28, first world cup - 2019

Metcalf: “Vibes! She will start the party – if you need good vibes, high energy, go to Fran. She is like the social secretary of the group.”

Guscoth: “Someone said Fran is like the mum of the group. She has two personalities – you have on-court Fran, which is Francesca – studious and competitive. Then you have Fran off the court, who is all about the good vibes. She is probably the most extroverted extrovert I have ever met in my life. A bit of a laugh, always happy to have a laugh and a joke, even at her expense.”

‘The forgetful one’ – Funmi Fadoju

Funmi Fadoju - wing defence/goal defence/goal keeper, debut - 2022, caps - 13, first world cup - 2023

Guscoth: “Funmi is one of the most forgetful people I’ve ever met but on it in some ways. The things Funmi has left on public transport around England is thousands of pounds worth of things – suitcases, England Netball equipment. I think she needs contact lenses but never remembers to bring them or they always fall out.”

Metcalf: “I want to say ditsy – her contact lenses fall out mid-game. She played a Super League game once with an Airpod in her ear and didn’t know about it until the end of the game when she couldn’t find her Airpods and one of them was in her ear. But that game she will have still performed incredibly well.”

‘Calming presence’ – Jade Clarke

Jade Clarke - centre/wing defence, debut - 2003, caps - 200, first world cup - 2003

Metcalf: “The gamer of the group, she sets us challenges. Sometimes if we need a bit of a lift in the camp we’ll ask Jade to set us a challenge – she will set something up with whatever it is on hand. Rounders bats, cones, balls.

“If any new person is coming in, they’ll be thinking ‘Jade Clarke, wow’ with all the experience and caps she has got but she is so humble, she makes you feel so welcome and is very good at driving the group as well.”

Guscoth: “A really gentle, calm soul. You play Jade on court and she is so competitive but off the court she brings the most calming presence. She’s so measured, always says the right thing and knows when to speak. Whatever city you’re in in the world, Jade will be off at the local coffee shop.”

‘Stupidly creative’ – Laura Malcolm

Laura Malcolm - wing defence/centre/wing attack, debut - 2012, caps - 53, first world cup - 2023

Guscoth: “Laura is stupidly creative, she’s always designing things. You ask Laura for something and five minutes later she will have designed something on her phone – super creative. She designed my living room in my new house!

“She’s also got this side to her that loves anime, weird horror films – massive geek. She doesn’t try to hide that!”

Metcalf: “She’ll design netball-specific things like gameplan cards – she’s very intelligent and her ability to be able to do that is amazing but she’ll design things off court like bracelets. You name it, she can design it.”

‘Contagious personality’ – Imogen Allison

Imogen Allison - wing defence/centre, debut - 2020, caps - 28, first world cup - 2023

Guscoth: “Imo is such a northerner – really warm and funny but super sarcastic. She’s a very relaxed person, I always think she seems much older than her years because she’s so relaxed and nothing fazes her, she’s very chilled.”

Metcalf: “Hilarious – her Yorkshire laugh is just brilliant. Her and Fran are like an old married couple but her personality is very contagious.”

‘The sophisticated one’ – Chelsea Pitman

Chelsea Pitman - Wing attack, Debut - 2017, Caps - 45, First World Cup - 2019

Guscoth: “Chelsea is the most open person, similar to Geva and those two share a room so I dread to think the levels they chat about. She is a really warm and caring person – wears her heart on her sleeve.

“She is also the most sophisticated person I’ve met in my life – all her accessories have to match, earrings and everything. Massive fashionista. She is lived in I don’t know how many different cities but, within a month of being there, she has made a group of friends. She’s got a really infectious personality and finds people quite easily.”

Metcalf: “She has a really caring, nurturing side to her, she really cares about the people around her and the sense of belonging is massive for Chelsea. She always knows the best places to eat as well!”

‘Most caring’ – Natalie Metcalf

Natalie Metcalf - Wing attack/goal attack, Debut - 2015, Caps - 74, First World Cup - 2019

Guscoth: “Nat is a real caring person, makes sure everyone is included. Looks out for the staff and the players. The thing I love the most about Nat is that you can make her do anything – silly things like putting her hair a certain way. But the overarching thing is that she is so caring.”

‘Very intelligent’ – Helen Housby

Helen Housby - Goal Attack/Goal shooter, Debut - 2014, Caps - 90; First World Cup - 2015

Metcalf: “Helen is one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever met in my life. One tour we had The Cube board game and she was begging people to play it and probably won it. She’s so competitive – any type of game or quiz, she’ll want to play.”

Guscoth: “She knows the most random facts – very intelligent. Really chilled, which I think people don’t expect. We always say Helen says everything is the best thing ever so you ask her about something and she’ll say ‘that sandwich I had was the best sandwich ever’ – she’s an unreliable source because everything is the best thing ever!”

‘Inspiring’ – Eleanor Cardwell

Eleanor Cardwell - Goal Shooter/Goal Attack, Debut - 2016, Caps - 55; First World Cup - 2023

Guscoth: “El is really good in a group when youngsters come in. She likes to make everyone feel really included and takes them under her wing.”

Metcalf: “She has this oodie, which is bright yellow with garlic bread pictures all over it, and whenever we do a Zoom, England or anything, she will answer in the oodie. Wherever she goes, that goes with her!

“More recently, we have seen her bringing more to the game as well with the sports bra support and seeing her voice and the bravery to be that person is incredibly inspiring.”

‘The designated DJ’ – Olivia Tchine

Olivia Tchine - goal shooter, debut - 2022, caps - 8, first world cup - 2023

Guscoth: “Liv is hilarious without even realising it. My favourite memory of Liv is in South Africa for the Quad Series – we didn’t know her that well but she just came into mine and Nat’s room dancing and singing to Hairspray the musical.”

Metcalf: “Liv is the designated DJ! Whenever she puts the music on, you just trust that she’s going to put something good on so you don’t even need to request. She can read the room and knows what to put on – we’re in safe hands!

“She has a really good heart as well, she’s so caring and will come up to you and give you a cuddle before warm-up and check in on you.”

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