World Cup Hero Proud to Make History

Eleanor Cardwell was part of the history-making England squad to reach the Netball World Cup earlier this year and has been plying her trade in Australia.

During the summer, Eleanor and her teammates made history as they became the first England team to defeat Australia at the Netball World Cup, winning 56-55 to top their group. Eleanor started as a goal shooter and scored 34 from 35 shots to down the Aussies in South Africa.

After defeating New Zealand in the semi-final, the Roses again came up against the Australians in the gold medal match. Unfortunately, lightning was not to strike twice as England had to settle for silver medals, losing 61-45, but Eleanor was no less proud to return home with a medal around her neck.

Eleanor told Fen Regis Trophies: “I was very nervous for the semi-final, feeling sick and anxious all day, but when we got to the final I was relaxed.

“I was like, ‘okay, we’ve made the final and we have won medals…now we just need to play’.”

“They (Australia) were just better than us,” added Eleanor. “They absolutely smashed us out of the park in the second half, to be honest…and that’s what you should expect from Australia.

“I was heartbroken at the end…I remember getting all the girls together when Australia was celebrating and telling them we have got to be proud of what we have done, and where we have come from.

“I think I was upset for about 10 seconds, had a little cry, and then I had a sense of pride for what we have done.

“We created history, we were the first England team to get a silver medal and we should be proud of ourselves.”

Starting From the Back

Eleanor has been playing netball since joining her local club, Blackpool Netball Club, at the age of 10. Though now she is more recognisable playing in goal attack, the 28-year-old began life as a defender before eventually transitioning to the forward line in 2015.

“I moved to goal shooter from being in defence,” the England international explained. “I had been phased out as a defender…the coaches told me they weren’t going to pick me the following year as a defender.”

That was during Eleanor’s first spell at Manchester Thunder, during which time she was coached by Tracey Neville, who propelled the Blackpool shooter’s career into another stratosphere.

“I turned into a shooter in 2016 with Tracey Neville and progressed from there,” said Eleanor. “2016 was my first year as a shooter where I got actual court time.”

Leaving and Returning to Manchester Thunder

Eventually, Eleanor would leave Manchester Thunder in 2016 for Severn Stars before making a return to her first professional club in 2019 as a completely different player.

“It was a hard decision to leave [Manchester Thunder],” Eleanor admitted. “I had just gotten into the England team in 2016 as a shooter and I had to take the opportunity to take my netball to the next step.

“To play for England, I needed to be on the court and so I decided to move with two of my teammates to go to Severn Stars.

“I played every minute for two seasons and I got to establish my style of netball.”

Eleanor’s return to Thunder didn’t come with an immediate place in the starting line-up, however, as she found herself vying for the goal shooter position against Malawian international Joyce Mvula.

“Going back to Manchester, when I had two years away, it was the right time and I wanted to go back.

“In 2019, we won the league but I didn’t get much court time. I was up against a goal shooter who was well-established at international level for Malawi.

“I was always on the bench a lot and coming on and not getting court time in some games. It was like that for two years up until Covid and that’s really when it took off.

“Since Covid, I played a lot for Manchester Thunder and won a few titles with them.”

Going Down Under

Reaching a World Cup final has not been the only big event to happen to Eleanor in 2023, having made the move to move to Australian side Adelaide Thunderbirds in the Super Netball League. Under head coach Tania Obst, Eleanor has been made vice-captain and won the club’s first league title for 10 years in her maiden season down under.

“I have had a few opportunities to go to Australia,” said Eleanor. “Australia is a professional league, so it is a league that you want to participate in.

“You get paid properly, you do full-time training and it is a good environment to be a part of.

“With Covid, it just didn’t right to go over in those moments, so this year when the opportunity came about everything just kind of fell into place.

“My partner could come over with a visa and the Adelaide head coach, Tania Obst, has been an assistant coach for England.

“I knew they had a really good team, they were just missing a shooter, so it all fit together, and it felt like it was the right time.”

Before returning to the court in Australia in 2024, Eleanor is taking the opportunity to look back on what has been a quite remarkable 2023 at home with her family in England.

By Aaron Gratton

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Visit our online shop