Cardiff’s netball stars say national Sky coverage is huge for the sport

The channel is airing behind-the-scenes footage of the Celtic Dragons

CARDIFF’S Celtic Dragons are representing Wales again in the 2023 Netball Super League and now fans will get to know more about the players off the court.

For the first time, Sky Sports is adding extra content to its social media with behind-the-scenes footage and exclusive interviews with players.

“There’s doctors behind the athletes, there’s teachers, there’s students,” said Dragons’ captain Clare Jones.

“This brings so much value to the environment and to the athlete as a character as well. Trying to understand that and see that is really important.

“It just gives us more of a platform to be able to represent ourselves.”

Jones, 31, qualified last year as a doctor in clinical psychology after three years of balancing her PHD alongside playing national and international netball. She is entering her seventh season in the NSL and plays wing defence and centre.

Clare Jones, wing defence and centre 5ft 8 Credit: Wales Netball

“It is huge for the sport. To have a separate highlights show just shows how fast the sport is growing and that interest is there to see not just what’s going on with the games, but the characters behind the athletes and the franchise,” she said.

Wing attack/centre Shona O’Dwyer, 25, said this added coverage may also help to “professionalise the league”.

Shona O’Dwyer,, wing attack/ centre, 5ft 4 Credit: Wales Netbal)

“It means a lot. It will bring in that extra level of exposure to the sport and hopefully sponsorship and big companies will see what we are about now,” she said.

The Celtic Dragons are one of 11 teams in the NSL and are the only team to represent Wales.

Swansea-born Jones said: “It’s a huge honour to be able to represent the leading female sport in Wales.”

O’Dwyer said: “We are incredibly honoured to be the team that gets to represent Wales and to show what Welsh athletes, and what Welsh support can do in the league.”

After placing 10th in the league last year with just three wins, the Dragons have adapted their play and are excited to enter this year’s tournament as a more bonded team.

In preparation for the 2023 season, captain Jones said: “We had to do a big reflection on how last season went.

“We were a fairly fresh team last year. We had had a lot of change in terms of management and we had a lot of new players so it was really important last year that we solidified a style of play that we can all buy into, and it was really successful for us.

“What’s been really advantageous to us is that we have kept a large bulk of the players that we had last year so in terms then of how we have been able to grow and progress the relationships that we started last year – we’ve been able to do that really comfortably.”

O’Dwyer described last year’s tournament as a “builder season”.

“I think we were quite a new team last season, so it took us a while to build the connection — but we’ve worked on that. We’re lucky to pick up where we left off and we know how each other plays now so we are all positive going into this season,” she said.

The Dragons will be making their 2023 debut in the league by taking on reigning champions Manchester Thunder, on February 11, at home at The House of Sport.

Athough it will be tough, O’Dwyer is excited to start the tournament by playing against the defending champs.

“It’s a great opportunity. What better way to start than to hit the ground running against the team that are reigning champions,” she said.

Jones added: “I couldn’t have asked to have started against a better team. To be able to test ourselves against the reigning champions is something. We have really got to rise to the occasion.”

  • Click here to see the Celtic Dragons’ fixtures for the rest of the season.