Youngstars: Netballer Laura Longstaff's England ambition
The Year 9 student at Dyke House College has made incredible progress over the last few years and she wants to make sure that continues.
Laura spends a large part of the week working on her game and her performances have earned recognition from England selectors because she has attended a regional satellite centre for more than a year.
“I would like to play for England when I’m older, that would be amazing,” said Laura. “It’s about taking steps. First of all I want to start playing for Team Northumbria first to get more confidence than I have when I am playing.
“I hope to learn more about what is required to get to that level. I already play for Northumbria Juniors, I am at county level and where I go for that, Thornaby, it’s all part of a pathway programme to England Netball.”
Laura started to play netball when she was at Fens Primary and followed in her mother Karen’s footsteps of playing the sport.
Laura’s speed across the court is a huge strength and she has used to run the 200m for Burn Road Harriers, as well as school, before deciding to focus on netball.
She is a regular for Hartlepool’s reputable Oaksway, where she plays goal attack, goal shooter or wing attack.
Laura, on the top tier of the Elite Development Squad scholarship programme at Dyke House, said: “This season we have won all our games in the Under-16s league for Oaksway, I also play for the Under-14s and in a women’s league when we face players who can be 30-years-old or even more.
“I like to be able to run fast and shoot, my speed can get me free all of the time.
“I used to play wing attack but now I am shooter, I am getting a lot of player of the matches and I do feel like I have really improved in the last few years.”
Laura, 14, played in the Nationals in Newcastle over the weekend and attended county training at Thornaby.
She also has academy training and tends to have a match on Monday.
While netball is her main love, she enjoys a variety of sports and holds hopes of going to Northumbria University to further her education after Dyke House so she would love to return to school one day.
“I want to be a PE teacher, and go to university,” said Laura, who also used to sing for Val Armstrong’s School of Performing Arts.
“I have been on a couple of trips to Northumbria and to the Glasgow Oriam Centre with the Elite Development Squad and that has helped me to think about the future.
“I have also learned how to take care of my body more to prevent injuries and to recover from injuries. “I love netball and I just want to keep getting better and play more.
“I have got a season ticket to watch Team Northumbria, when I go I like to watch my positions and see how they perform, how it can help me.”