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Foundation Focus: Ellie Bennett

Foundation Focus stars a number of participants who have made significant progress with The Albion Foundation and how they have progressed to meet their achieved goals! This week focuses on netball player, Ellie Bennett who first engaged with the Foundation through the Premier League 4 Sport programme. 

Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 15.25.12How did you hear about the Albion Foundation?

I attended George Salter Academy and have been very lucky to have been coached in many different sports by The Albion Foundation and Lauren Affron since 2013. As a result of the excellent coaching and opportunities that the Foundation has allowed me to attend, I have now been offered a sports scholarship at Bromsgrove School and also play for the West Midlands netball Regional Performance Academy.

When did you first get involved?

I first played in a Premier League 4 Sport competition when I was in Year 8 over 4 years ago. George Salter holds the Sandwell Netball Tournament every year and in 2012 I played in my very first game representing West Bromwich Albion. It was such an amazing day full of netball and was also great to mix with other girls who share the same interests as you. It was a very successful day for myself and the Albion team as we won the tournament. This meant that we would progress on to represent WBA in the national tournament in LONDON! This was such a big achievement and in my first PL4S National Tournament, WE WON!!! Being unbeaten all day and playing a thrilling final against Arsenal this has got to be one of my proudest moments yet.

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However, it doesn’t stop there! We then continued to do this for the following 2 years, again in London and last year in Liverpool.The day we won in Liverpool was such an honour as we then went to watch England vs Australia in a Tri-Series only to be awarded with the PL4S trophy live on Sky Sports at half time ON COURT, in front of thousands of people in the crowd and at home watching on T.V.

Aside from netball though, The Albion Foundation also allowed me to keep my love for football going as well as netball. Lauren Affron ran an extra curricular club at George’s for the girls football team which I really enjoyed. It was great fun and got me and the girls together for a kick about and some training. Along with the training of course came a few matches, I captained the team to 2/2 wins against RSA and Sandwell Academy where Lauren coached us and kept us motivated all the way through and although football is no longer my first sport, I will never stop playing and I will still enjoy a kick around.

Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 15.25.44The Albion Foundation has also funded a lot for my Netball club and this has allowed us to enter leagues and we also got through to National Club Finals and we placed 12th in the country. This is a huge achievement for such a small local club in West Bromwich and The Albion foundation allowed us to do that. Without their funding and support, we would never be as successful as we are today.

However for myself it is not just about playing anymore, I have a desire to coach and with the help and support from the Foundation I was able to attend a level 1 coaching course and I can now proudly say I am a level 1 coach in netball and run my own U14 West Bromwich netball team. I have such a passion for coaching and I truly believe this is down to the outstanding coaching I have had from Kate Roberts and all of the Albion coaches and volunteers over my 5 years at George’s. I am now ready to pass on my knowledge and love for the game that I will hopefully continue to play for a very long time.

Playing developments

I first started playing netball aged 12 and it wasn’t pretty to say the least but from first whistle I was hooked, I loved it! I started playing for West Bromwich Netball Club in just 2012 and it has been a crazy time since…

I first trialled for county in 2012 at age 12 and at first I was unsuccessful but that didn’t stop me, I worked so hard in training and never gave up and then decided to retrial in the following season where all the hard work and determination had payed off and I was now a member of the U14 county academy. I was only in the county academy for 1 season when the head coach told me that I had been spotted by regional scouts and I was to attend the trials in July.

This was such amazing news as id only been playing 2 years but I had worked so hard for this moment and it had happened so much sooner than I had ever expected. Expecting nothing of these trials I went in and played my own game, that is all I could do… but somehow they loved it! My first ever U17 regional trial and I was successful at only 15! I have been playing for West Midlands Regional Academy for 2 years now and next year I will be moving up to the Regional Performance Academy U19 where we train twice a week 6:00pm-9:30pm. It is such hard work but I would not be in the position I am today without the hard work and determination. 

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I have played in 4 national school finals and 1 national clubs finals, at the most recent national finals we finished 5th best school in the country and the best state school in England! My biggest achievement yet!

These past 5 years at George Salter Academy have been outstanding and I would have never dreamt to have been so successful and to have had such an amazing time, however I have just finished year 11 and I am now off to Bromsgrove School where I will be boarding weekly and coming home n weekends.  Without George Salter Netball club and the non-stop tremendous support from The Albion Foundation I wouldn’t have stood a chance being offered the sports scholarship at one of the best private schools in England but I am so grateful of all the opportunities, funds and support that has been provided and I really hope that there are many more people like myself who get chances of a lifetime and really work towards the end goal, if I could give one piece of advice to anyone out there waiting for their time to shine I would say;

 ‘Work hard, stay focused and take any opportunities ever handed to you with 2 hands and don’t let anyone stop you’.

After Bromsgrove my final years in education will be spent in university studying sports science and then I will go on to complete my PGCE to teach PE in high school.

I have known Ellie for 5 years now, from her first day in year 7 I knew she was going to be playing netball and within a week I had cracked her, and ever since that day her drive and motivation has inspired so many girls and she is a role model for all of our younger girls, they all look up to her and always desire to play just like her, the one thing I can say is… work hard and it might just happen. 

Ellie never fails to surprise me in training, she will come up with something crazy and shock everyone but she will never stop, never give up and she always gives 110%. I am so glad that Ellie has the opportunity for sixth form at Bromsgrove as it will be perfect for her before uni and I know for her development it will be perfect.” Kate Roberts, PL4S Netball Coach.

For more information on The Albion Foundation and our activities, call us on 0871 271 9840.