Clifton Hunter High School principal Pauline Beckford was on the edge of her seat Saturday night as she tuned into an internet feed of England’s netball team winning a thrilling gold medal match against hosts Australia at the Commonwealth Games.
Ms. Beckford is not just a patriotic former netball coach, she had a special interest in the game. Her daughter Eboni Beckford-Chambers is a key member of the England team.
Ms. Beckford could not make the trip to the Gold Coast, but she watched every minute of the final.
“I was screaming so hard and shouting at the screen, I thought the neighbors were going to call the police,” she said. “I am so happy for them. She rang me right afterwards and was in tears of joy.”
The England team triumphed by 52-51 in an extremely close final against the Aussies, traditionally the powerhouse team of the sport.
Ms. Beckford, originally from the U.K., taught her daughter to play netball and coached her junior team from age seven to 11.
“Once they get to the pre-teen stage they know it all then, so you have to pass them on to someone else,” she joked.
She said her daughter had excelled at sports and had been seriously involved in ballet and gymnastics, as well as tennis and skiing.
“At one stage, the Olympic Committee were interested in her becoming a rower but she didn’t want to get up early in the morning and get her hair wet,” she said. “I think she genuinely loves team sports, being around the other girls and the friendship that goes with it.”
Ms. Beckford-Chambers, 30, a solicitor, has visited Grand Cayman on many occasions, running a netball clinic for children on the island on one visit.
She has played netball professionally in Australia and New Zealand and currently plays for Team Bath in the U.K. She was part of the England team that won bronze in the Delhi Commonwealth Games eight years ago, playing in the goalkeeper and goal defense positions.
England’s victory against Australia in the gold medal game has made front-page headlines across the U.K. and raised the profile of a sport that often plays second-fiddle to men’s pro sports like football, rugby and cricket.
“There was a big welcome at Heathrow airport and they have been on ‘The One Show’ and ‘BBC Breakfast.’ It was also in The Telegraph and The Guardian,” Ms. Beckford said. “They have just been grabbing the opportunity to raise the profile of netball.”