Playing an Active Role in the Netball World Cup

This year, at the Vitality Netball World Cup, the University of Leeds has been represented by alumnae Natalie Haythornthwaite and Ciara Crosbie and members of staff Suzanne Glavin and Kathy Fairclough who represented as volunteers and did Leeds proud.

University of Leeds Alumna Natalie Haythornthwaite represented England in the recent 2019 Vitality Netball World Cup held in Liverpool; reaching the semi-final, narrowly losing to New Zealand, and beating South Africa to win team bronze. Ciara Crosbie made her World Cup debut, representing Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland finished 8th at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and were looking to improve on that ranking in Liverpool. Unfortunately they could only manage 10th place after a tough set of fixtures which included playing the 2015 winners, Australia, in their opening match.

Ciara currently plays for Belfast Ladies and had made 9 international appearances prior to this World Cup campaign.
Natalie currently plays for Australian Super Netball League side New South Wales Swifts, and has previously played for Manchester Thunder and Wasps Netball in the English Superleague; winning consecutive titles with Wasps in 2017 and 2018 since leaving University. Additionally, she was part of the team that won gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Speaking to our Head of Sport, Suzanne Glavin, after the semi-final match she had some kind words to say about her time at The University of Leeds and to all of our current students playing netball;

“I enjoyed my time at The University of Leeds, playing university netball – BUCS was always fun! Good luck and enjoy BUCS league!”

Suzanne Glavin at Netball World Cup

Suzanne was a Pivoteer at the World Cup working in Press Operations. Her role involved supporting the many photographers, ensuring everyone was where they should be and were positioned to get the best possible shots. In addition to this, on finals day Suzanne was allocated as a Mixed Zone team member, an exciting but high pressure role! She was responsible for escorting both coaches and selected team members from each side from court to talk to the world’s sports broadcasters and written press in a timely fashion. Pivoteers are only told which players have been requested for interviews within a few minutes of the final whistle and can have a very short window of time to get everything done – on finals day all of this had to be completed within eight minutes! Suzanne was lucky to escort Rachel Dunn, a popular England Roses player to the Mixed Zone, but also quite an undertaking as many fans were demanding her attention!

Suzanne said;

“I am very privileged to represent the University of Leeds in this voluntary press operations role in actively supporting the promotion of world class female sport to global audiences. I genuinely hope that it inspires and motivates people to be active and play more sport.”


Uni staff member volunteering at the Netball World Cup

Photo Credit: Danny Dalton for Netball Scoop

Another University of Leeds staff Pivoteer, Kathy Fairclough from the Alumni office was there as a Technical Official scoring and timing the games. She worked on 60 matches over ten days, officiating during the semi-final which she cited as her personal highlight of the whole experience and was lucky enough to witness England win the bronze medal! Read more about Kathy’s experience on the Yorkshire Netball Facebook Page where she wrote five blog entries during the course of the tournament.

It was amazing to not only have one of our Leeds Sporting Alumni playing for England, but also to have two of our fantastic staff members volunteer at the event which reached one of the largest global audiences for a Netball World Cup, helping to raise the profile of Netball across the world.