One of the leaders in Brigg’s thriving netball club, Vanessa McErlain-Naylor has been making a name on the world stage at a sporting festival.
At the end of 2012 Maccabi GB, the Jewish Sports Association asked Vanessa if she would coach a Great Britain under 18s netball team and accompany them to Israel to take part in the 19th Maccabiah games this summer.
These games take place every four years and follow a year after the Olympic Games, thus they have become known as the Jewish Olympics.
The games are supported by more than 60 counties and include Juniors, Masters, Open and Paralympics categories. They are the third largest sporting event in the world after the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games.
All in all there are many hundreds of competitors taking part in a number of different events: futsal, basketball, netball, rugby, half marathon, football, track and field, cycling, hockey, softball, ice hockey, golf, swimming and many more competitions.
The GB netball teams from previous years had only ever achieved a silver medal and been runners up to Australia.
All this was about to change for they had not counted on a woman from Brigg, who had set her sights on a gold medal for her and her team. The teams should have been wary from the offset, at a preliminary meeting that took place a few days before the game started, a delegate from South Africa stated that he and his team recognised Vanessa and was aware of the reputation of Brigg and District Netball team, and the fact that they had been awarded the most outstanding club in England 2012 by England Netball.
After a struggle against Australia in earlier rounds, Vanessa coached her team to victory and made history by receiving the Gold medal and putting an end to Australia’s run of victories.
This was the first netball game Australia has ever lost in the history of the Maccabiah. While she was basking in the glory of beating the World Champions she also assisted with coaching the seniors, resulting in their Bronze medal.
In recognition of her skills, she was made the most outstanding coach of the Great Britain Junior squad.
Since her victorious achievement the Israeli Netball Association has asked her to go back to Israel next year with her family and coach some local children both in and out of school, as well as their national side.