Commonwealth Games: Tracey Neville aiming to put brothers in the shade again

England netball coach: Tracey Neville.
England netball coach: Tracey Neville.
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England netball head coach Tracey Neville hopes to share knowledge with her twin brother Phil now he is England Women football manager.

The pair have barely had a chance to talk since Phil’s appointment due to his team’s involvement in the She Believes Cup and the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers.

If you can learn from other sports and other coaches, it’s one of the greatest experiences you can have to make you better in your job.

England netball head coach Tracey Neville

Tracey’s Roses squad, meanwhile, are in final preparations for the Commonwealth Games, which open on April 4 in Gold Coast, Australia.

“I think it’s a conversation that we will have when we can find at least 10 minutes to sit down,” said Tracey. “But we’re not (just) coaches, we’re brother and sister.”

Tracey, England netball head coach since 2015, has worked informally with Football Association coaches in the past and hopes the relationship continues.

The 41-year-old added: “I do think within invasion sports there’s an important cross over.

“If you can learn from other sports and other coaches it’s one of the greatest experiences you can have to make you better in your job.”

Phil’s elevation to the top job in women’s football in January was met with surprise by many and he had to deny he was sexist and apologised for historic social media posts that appeared derogatory to women.

Tracey was reluctant to talk about Phil’s job, but more than willing to discuss her own.

“If you enjoy your job, you love your job, you never have to work. That’s the way I feel,” she added. “I’m passionate about the Roses. It’s such an honour and it is quite emotional. I just want to do the job well, all of what’s expected of me in the role.”

Claiming bragging rights must be difficult to come by in the Neville household; mutual respect is far more likely.

Both Phil and Gary, their older brother, played with distinction for Manchester United and England. Phil also played for Everton.

While international honours proved elusive for her brothers, Tracey won bronze in Kuala Lumpur as netball became a Commonwealth sport.

Twenty years on Tracey is seeking to guide her England team to the podium, but competition is stiff. New Zealand, Malawi and Uganda are likely to challenge England in Pool B for the top two spots and qualification for the semi-finals.

Wales and Scotland – England’s first opponents – are also in Pool B, while sharp-shooters Australia, South Africa and Jamaica are in Pool A.

England will hope to benefit from the experience of Geva Mentor, who is playing at her fifth Commonwealth Games and was the star player in the Australian league in 2017.

“Looking at form and going into the competition, our biggest challenges are New Zealand, Uganda and Malawi,” continued Neville.

“We’ve got to be on the ball. You get one opportunity or you’re eliminated. You can’t go back and have another shot at it, which you can in a Test series.”