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Image of Photo of Chloe Merrell playing netball in a University of Cambridge uniform
Photo: Joe Stankiewicz

Recent graduate wins Sky Sport reporter role for netball World Cup

Recent graduate Chloe Merrell (2015) is about to report from netball's World Cup for Sky Sports before heading to Harvard to take up the Joseph Hodges Choate Memorial fellowship for 2019-2020. Finn Ranson (2017) talked to Chloe to find out more.

How long have you been playing netball?

Since I was six. I was always really active and doing lots of sports like tennis and kickboxing. Then I got to University and decided that I really wanted to do sport, and thought netball was my best chance.

The most experience I’d had previously was probably playing for my school sixth form team. I started in the second team and became captain in my second year. I ended up as Blues captain by my third year. I was constantly outside my comfort zone, even coming onto court as captain and feeling very inadequate the whole time!

How do you look at the game differently as a journalist rather than as a player?

I think it’s looking at the level of detail that goes into playing netball at that level. Tactically I can now see when a team makes the decision to do something, in a way that I might not necessarily have noticed when I was playing. 

How do you rate England’s chances at the World Cup?

Very good. We took part in the Quad Series in January and beat the Aussies. That was big because the Commonwealth gold win against Australia might have been a fluke, but we beat them again.

We’re not unbeatable. We have the depth that other countries don’t have but it’s pretty open, which is exciting. And outside countries like Malawi and Uganda have got individuals who are phenomenal. But we’ve got a great chance. We really need the girls to do well, as this could be the moment that netball takes off. That’s a lot of pressure.

Do you think netball is starting to get more publicity?

Definitely. The Commonwealth Games was a big turning point if we’re talking about public consciousness around the game. Having the women’s football World Cup at the same time helps. You have newspapers making an effort now; the Telegraph was the first to have a women’s sport supplement and they got Anna Kessel in. But the domestic league still doesn’t really get any coverage. I don’t think people know that they can watch netball or that it’s exciting to watch. 

This is what I wrote about and that's how Sky found me. The domestic league’s only on Sky and even then they only air one of eight matches. You have to follow bloggers on Twitter. I asked, why can’t we just stream matches? From the end of March 2019, all the Super League matches were free to stream. That really helps and retrospectively the sport has gained a lot more views. It’s clever because it’s more the way that people now consume media anyway, they don’t necessarily watch it live. 

What will happen for you at the World Cup and beyond? 

Across the whole World Cup I’ll be doing seven shifts, covering all the games in an official capacity. Everything that I’ve done this year all stemmed from trying to prepare for this as well as possible.

Then we’ll see how it goes. The challenge is to juggle going to Harvard with writing about netball. I would love to be in a position to do both.

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