SJB

In 2011, Cardinals Netball was nothing more than an idea shared between two former Sheerwater school friends. Nine years later, it’s one of the most successful and fastest growing clubs in Woking and Surrey at large.

Young cardinals with Surrey Storm and South Africa International player Shadine Van Der Merwe

Co-founders and level 2 head coaches Kate Carthy and Hilary ‘Hils’ Hooper have been instrumental in the meteoric rise in popularity of netball, with Cardinals now becoming a beacon for other clubs to aspire to.

“It was actually my husband who suggested that we should start a netball team. My daughter wanted to play netball in year three at school, but there wasn’t really anything that she could get involved with until she was in year five, so there was a gap to fill,” Carthy said.

In the early days, the club comprised a small group of friends, which included Carthy and Hooper’s sons, to help make up the numbers.

Since then, the club has grown year-on-year through word of mouth. It now has in-excess of 250 girls playing netball each week.

Kate Carthy and Hillary “Hils” Hooper

Speaking of Cardinals increasing popularity, Hopper added: “Netball is one of the biggest growing sports in the UK.

“Girls’ sport in particular has experienced high levels of growth over the past decade or so, not just through the likes of football and cricket, but netball too.

“The fact that they’re now showing netball on television has really helped to raise awareness of the sport; so much so, it’s actually becoming increasing more difficult to get tickets to watch Surrey Storm compete in the Netball Superleague.

“We now manage the best part of 20 teams, who train at Sythwood Primary School and SJB (St John the Baptist School).

“We promote the fact that we are inclusive, not exclusive and that we will always do our utmost to accommodate every player we can between the ages of six and 18,” added Hopper.

Carthy and Hooper are now looking into the possibilities of running a summer league this year to demonstrate the club’s ongoing commitment to provide a pathway for progression and soon to be unrivalled sporting achievements.

For the full interview get the 28 February edition of the News & Mail