By David Saunders, Health Editor | UPDATED: 11:28, 01 April 2020
Two teams of celebrity players and sporting legends, led by Jennifer Saunders and Oti Mabuse, will battle it out this summer in the first ever All-Star Netball for Sport Relief. Sport Relief will take to the court as Clare Balding presents a tense celebrity and legends netball match during the weekend of the Netball World Cup final.
The netball newbies are ditching their usual daytime attire and pulling on netball bibs to help raise money and change lives in the UK and internationally. The intrepid squad’s journey will all be revealed, from the very first training session through to the nail-biting final, in a one-hour special at 7pm Saturday 20 July on BBC Two.
Hoping to carry out a childhood dream of lifting a sporting trophy, huge netball fan and comedy legend Jennifer Saunders will captain one of the all-star teams. She will face tough competition from a team led by Strictly Come Dancing’s Oti Mabuse. Oti, who grew up playing netball in South Africa, will be hoping her years of dance training pay off as she hot-foots it around the court at the Liverpool Arena.
Eager to make their captains proud are team players
Montana Brown, Love Island
Denise Lewis, ex-heptathlete and former Olympic champion
Sarah Hadland, actress and comedian, Miranda
Sally Phillips, actress and comedian, Smack The Pony
Sue Smith, commentator and ex-England footballer
Ellie Taylor, presenter and comedian, The Mash Report
Vick Hope, Capital FM Breakfast presenter
Luisa Omielan, comedian
Adele Roberts, BBC Radio 1 DJ
Dame Katherine Grainger, ex-rower and former Olympic champion
Lindsey Russell, presenter, Blue Peter
Jade Jones, Taekwondo athlete and Olympic gold medallist
Katherine Merry, ex-sprinter and former Olympian medallist
Clare Balding says: “Comic Relief and I share the belief that sport has the power to bring about positive social change for individuals and communities and I’ve wanted to put on something like All-Star Netball For Sport Relief for some time. This summer has been incredible for putting women in sport in the spotlight and with the Netball World Cup taking place in the UK it’s far from finished, so I’m thrilled that All-Star Netball For Sport Relief can be a part of that.
“I hope the match inspires more women across the country to get involved with sport while raising money for vital causes.”
Jennifer Saunders says: “I never thought I’d be leading a team out on to a netball court but I’m definitely up for the challenge. I would say I’m confident, but I haven’t picked up a netball since school so who knows what kind of moves I’ll be making out there in the arena. I wouldn’t be getting this active for anything other than Sport Relief so I’m hoping loads of people tune in to the programme and donate.
“This might be my only chance to hold up a sporting trophy and I’m not letting this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity slip away from me, so when I pull on that netball bib I’ll be taking my role as team captain very seriously. My team is going to be unstoppable and there certainly won’t be any cheating going on…”
Oti Mabuse says: “I’ve always played sports, all different types, and netball has always been something I have really enjoyed. Netball was a part of my upbringing, I grew up playing it in South Africa, so the game is close to my heart. I like playing GA because I love shooting, whenever we go out to a game arcade I play my husband and we’re always competing against each other on who can score the most goals!
“As a team captain, I’ll be whipping my team in to shape to keep Jennifer on her toes and make sure we bring that trophy home. I’ll be pushing the team and I’m going to do a massive pep talk about self-belief and encouragement – my plan is to make the team believe they are the best netball players in the country. I’m going to have to keep my cool during Sport Relief’s All-Star Netball because I’ve never played in such a big arena before, the pressure is on! Despite the size of the arena, I’m excited to get out on that court and give it my all for Sport Relief to help raise vital funds.”
These famous faces are getting active for Sport Relief to raise money to help support vulnerable people here in the UK and abroad through projects such as The Change Foundation in London. The Change Foundation uses the rules and game of netball to teach girls and young women how to stay safe on social media. It empowers girls and young women to think more positively about their online interactions, to consider how that can affect their prospects for the future and raises awareness of negative social influences.
Shooting Touch in Rwanda is another brilliant project helping women through the power of sport. Shooting Touch deliver basketball health sessions that incorporate an employability module to drive gender equity, reduce stigmas, and increase employment. The project includes elements designed specifically for women, aimed at driving economic empowerment through employment and self-employment in their communities.
The programme will showcase the game, follow the ups and downs of team training and show how the money raised by Sport Relief is used to make a real difference to ordinary people living incredibly tough lives. Tune in to the one-off special at 7pm on Saturday 20 July on BBC Two.