A school has bounced back and qualified three netball teams for a national final a year after being banned from the prestigious competition because of a 10p debt.
Central Newcastle High School has three teams of girls in the finals of this year’s tournament run by England Netball.
The under-14s, under-16s and under-19s made their way through county and regional heats earlier this year and the girls are now training for the national finals in March this year.
However, the under-16s and under-18s teams were denied the opportunity to compete in the finals last year after the school was confronted about a tiny unpaid debt.
Each year, the girls-only school pays a subscription to Netball England of £24.10-a-year to gain affiliation to enter the school-wide competition.
But the school mistakenly paid £24 instead of the full amount.
Once staff found out about the outstanding money, which amounted to 10p, the school paid up. But despite appeals over the ban, England Netball refused to back down and the girls were denied the chance to play.
At a disciplinary hearing last year, England Netball apologised for their actions against the school.
Now, the school’s head of PE Jackie Atkinson has praised the girls for their resilience despite last year’s crushing disappointment.
She said: “Having been denied the opportunity to compete last year, which England Netball then had to apologise for at a disciplinary hearing, the girls focused on training and improving rather than dwelling on a past that they could not change.
“Three training sessions a week have seen the team go from strength to strength and the work ethos has rubbed off on the younger players. We are thrilled that all three teams will take up their place at the national finals this year.”
Having won the Tyne and Wear County Championships, the three Central High teams qualified for the North East regional championships along with the seven other best teams in the North East.
The regional championships were hard fought at each age level but the under-14s won all seven matches and scored 110 goals against 27 from the other teams.
Mrs Atkinson added: “These girls played out of their skins to win every game they played.
“This was their first major competition and they received lots of compliments from other coaches and umpires on the standard of their play.”
Captain of the under-19s team, Farah Hasan, said: “After last year, it made us want it even more, so I am thrilled that we have got through to the finals again. We are going to work extremely hard in preparation for competing against the best netball teams in the country.”