Jade Clarke says England ‘broke the glass ceiling’ despite World Cup final loss

By Sports Desk August 07, 2023

England stalwart Jade Clarke believes they have broken the glass ceiling with their record-breaking Netball World Cup showing.

The Roses lost out 61-45 to Australia in Cape Town on Sunday with the Diamonds able to achieve a 12th world crown.

It has nevertheless been a memorable 10 days for Jess Thirlby’s side after they beat Australia earlier in the tournament and defeated 2019 World Cup winners New Zealand in the semi-finals, which ended the Southern Hemisphere stranglehold on the final of the competition.

New Zealand and Australia had contested the last six World Cup finals before this weekend but England, who won Commonwealth gold in 2018, are eager to go one better in four years time.

Clarke told the PA news agency: “Obviously we’re so disappointed to lose the final but today we have the bigger picture in mind and what we achieved just to step foot into that final.

“We’ve got to be so proud from the turnaround of coming fourth at the (2022) Commonwealth Games and with all the hard work the players and staff have done.

“I’m just so happy. Creating history is something I’ve always talked about and been my main driver so really cool to do that and for all the fans at home watching.

“We have broke the glass ceiling. We know Australia have been in 12 finals and that was our first, but we want to make this a regular occurrence.

“We want all the girls watching or playing netball at home to see it as something normal that England can get into finals, so we want to carry on that positivity.

“I’m so happy we have a lot of young players who have now stepped on that court in a World Cup final and hopefully those young players can go on and get gold next time.”

Thirlby, who replaced Tracey Neville in 2019, challenged England to go into uncharted territory ahead of the 16th edition of the World Cup.

After scoring more than 200 goals to top Group B, England firmly captured the imagination of the public back home with victory over Australia in the second group stage of the competition.

The thrilling 56-55 win over the Diamonds was backed up by an historic semi-final success by six goals over New Zealand and while Thirlby’s team depart South Africa with a silver medal, a sense of satisfaction is the overriding feeling for the most experienced member of the squad.

“We have very much been in our own bubble but we love to see what the fans are saying at home and let in that support. We’ve actually had a lot of people fly over here and seen so much red and white in the crowd,” Clarke added.

“They were singing Three Lions before we went on in the final and we could hear them all the time.

“Even though we have been in our bubble, we’ve been so aware of the growing support and I just hope a lot more people take up netball, carry on netball or get back into netball for watching this. We’re really grateful for all the support.”

Sunday’s appearance in the World Cup final is set to bring the curtain down on Clarke’s remarkable international career, which started in 2002.

England’s record cap holder was left off next year’s central contract list and this sixth World Cup is now expected to be her last alongside team-mate Geva Mentor, who confirmed her own plans to retire from international duty earlier this summer.

The 39-year-old is hugely proud of the strides made by the sport during the past two decades and has maintained her stance of not officially retiring in case the call ever comes again.

The London Pulse star insisted: “I will carry on playing domestic netball and I think while I’m playing and training my hardest, I will always be available for England netball.

“But if this is my last hurrah, I am so happy with it and so proud we could break into that final like we always wanted to do.

“It is my sixth time trying so really cool it happened right at the end of my career and for Geva as well.

“It has been a rollercoaster journey. Sport is so up and down. We believed we could get into that final and we made it happen, but this team still wants more.”

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