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The captain decides it’s time to go

Netball | Published:

A DAY of farewells awaits Saffery Panthers as they face Clan Two at St Sampson’s High tomorrow for their final game of the season.

Time to hang up the bib: Nena Copperwaite has opted to retire.(Picture by Ben Fiore 24145602)

Not only will they bow out from what has been a testing yet often spectacular South Division Three campaign, they will also say goodbye to their captain and star centre Nena Copperwaite after her last game for the representative side.

Copperwaite has been a staunch figure for Panthers since helping start things up in 2012 and she has decided hang up her bib for this reason.

‘I have pretty much played every minute of every match and could probably count the amount of training sessions that I’ve missed in those past seven years on one hand. I feel like it’s time to give my body and mind a much-deserved break,’ she said.

She will nevertheless relish the opportunity to continue driving forwards her Blaze club side and is resolute to continue supporting Panthers as much as possible following the well-earned retirement.

‘I’m excited for the team and to watch them play, it’s something I love doing but never get the opportunity to do as I’m always on court,’ she added.

‘I will be backing them 100% next season and will be there supporting at every home game. It’s an exciting time for our younger players or those already involved in the squad to step up now.’

Among the younger players gaining new opportunities is Lydia McClean, who has been drafted onto the bench in this weekend’s squad for a possible Panthers representation.

Goal shooter Jemma Green’s attacking presence made her the outstanding performer in the Guernsey side’s 61-53 win against Clan Two last December, and she will make a welcome return as Kyra Butcher and Steph Batiste sit out through injury, while several others are absent.

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Captain Copperwaite hopes for the best possible send-off against the league’s seventh-placed side, with Panthers currently sitting fourth but eligible for the league’s third spot depending on how rivals Weston Park Blades Two perform across the water.

‘Last time out against Clan they really fought back hard against us and given some of their recent scores, we’ll be expecting a tough match again,’ she said.

‘I’ve known for a while [that I’ll step down] but have kept it close to my chest until the end of the season so that the squad can keep focus on getting the results – but I’ve told them all now. So hopefully we can finish on a win.’

Squad: Jemma Green, Abbie Greening, Charlotte Hill, Nena Copperwaite, Tiff Gervaise-Brazier, Ella Staples, Zola Saunders, Verona Tomlin, Lydia McClean, Rebecca Harding.

Action begins at 11.30.

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