Tracey’s bravery and beating Jamaica

The word ‘brave’ is thrown around a little too often when it comes to sporting achievements.
But what Tracey Neville did on Saturday was, undoubtedly, brave.

Standing in front of the glare of the world’s cameras to lead her team, just hours after her beloved father Neville had died, in an arena with thousands of eyes fixed on her, was one of the most courageous things I’ve ever seen.

But Tracey had a job to do and that steely determination and focus we’ve seen as she barked orders at her Thunder players during her time in Manchester, was ever present as England took on rivals Jamaica on Saturday.

It was a pulsating game. Jamaica led for the whole of the first half as England struggled to cut out errors and create some fluid attacking play.

It was the type of match crying out for a player to come on and change the game.
And that player was Black and Yellows shooter Helen Housby.

England needed more height in the shooting circle alongside Jo Harten, with Pamela Cookey not able to influence the game as much as she usually would. Helen brought athleticism, versatility and speed to England’s attack.

Coupled with veteran defender Sonia Mkoloma entering the game for the third and fourth quarters and the Roses controlling centre court, England took hold of the game and overturned a five-goal deficit before holding on to a slender lead until the final whistle.

It was a gutsy performance dripping with passion and pride. The Roses are a team united, playing for each other, for their coach, for Neville and for their country.

As the squad waved to their (loud) England fans scattered through the crowd, relief at overcoming the demons of Glasgow and the delight at securing a very significant win was written all over their faces.

England next face Samoa in their final group game, before the tournament enters the next phase.