There are no gaps for free time on Nicole Sproul’s calendar. Alongside blocks for school, eating and sleeping, any other spare chunk has been devoted to netball.
But having netball six days a week and playing in four separate teams all combined to catapult the now 15 year-old into the U17 UAE squad where she competed at the European Netball Championships last year.
Pulling on the goal defence bib as likely the youngest player competing in Huddersfield, England, Sproul produced a stellar individual competition. She received the coaches’ player of the tournament award and clearly revelled playing against the best.
“It was an incredible experience, seeing and meeting all the other teams and getting to play against them. The level of competition was outstanding, and it was amazing to see how talented the other teams were. To me this will always be a highlight and moment I’ll cherish for life,” she said.
“The toughest team we played by far was England, their tactics and the way they played was incredible, (they’re) such talented girls.”
The journey to make the team was extensive and a feeling or relief washed over Sproul when she was first selected for the squad, and again when she was chosen to form the travelling team.
“The trials at the beginning were tough, everyone there was so talented and there was only one day of trialling, but finally getting the e-mail saying I made the squad was worth the wait and such a relief. After that the training sessions became more intense and the level of effort put in by all the girls was exceptional,” she said.
Then following five months of training, Sproul received the nod she would be on the flight to England as a goal defence. But she could just as easily have played at the opposite end of the court.
“For six years I played goal attack but every netball camp I went to in South Africa all my coaches said I would be such a good defender due to my height. When I moved to Dubai, during my first netball trial at DESC in year 7 more than half of the girls were trying out to be a shooter. To have more of a chance, instead I decided to trial in the goal defence position, and I am so glad I did because now I am a GD and that is the position I was selected for to play in England,” Sproul said.
Along with playing for the UAE and her school squad, Sproul takes the court for the Hurricanes Netball Club, the School Bus League Team and the Wonder Girls League Team. With netball six days a week, she had plenty of people to thank for their commitment to her sporting dream.
“Without the time, patience, effort and assistance offered by my parents, teammates, Louise Vickery and Dawn Mattinson of the Hurricanes, DNATA Sports Academy and the entire team of UAE netball headed up by Susanne Skelding, this dream of mine would never have become a reality!” she said.
“Lastly, for all aspiring athletes out there the UAE offers us such great opportunities in sport unlike anywhere else and has taught me, no matter what your age, you can achieve great things!”