England netball sisters are doing it for themselves
PUBLISHED: 10:02 05 December 2014 | UPDATED: 10:02 05 December 2014
Dave Evans meets the sisters dreaming of a netball World Cup win
It was one of the defining moments of last summer’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. There is 12 seconds to go in the netball semi-finals and the score is all level between England and New Zealand as Kadeen Corbin collects the ball.
What followed was a nightmare. Kadeen loses it and New Zealand go up the other end and score the winning goal to end England’s dreams of a gold medal.
I am in Hatfield to see Kadeen and her sister and fellow England player Sasha Corbin before they embark on a vigorous three-hour training session for their Super League team Herts Mavericks.
Their smiles and laughs are infectious, and you can see the bond between the two that only sisters can have – they are clearly there for each other and have been all their lives.
But what about that moment in Glasgow? Was it all too much for younger sister Kadeen, whose birthday it is on the day I chat with the ladies.
It has been nearly five months since it happened and the 23-year-old seems to have got over the heartache.
“I was devastated at the time,” she says and that grin disappears from her face for a moment. “When I look back, I just think it is a game to learn from.
“I had never been to the Commonwealth Games, I had never been against New Zealand for a whole game. If I could flip the clock then maybe I would, but it is over and the next time we played them beat them.”
Sasha is quick to stand up for her little sister: “At the end of the day, it is a team game and everyone was going hard in that match, but we just made crucial errors at times and we had never been in those situations before,” she says.
Despite the smiles, you can tell there is a steel in these girls which has made them so successful.
They used to watch mum Violet play netball to county standard when they were kids, but they never played, instead Sasha, now 26, got into gymnastics, her sister following suit. So what happened to that potential?
“We grew,” explained Sasha. “I definitely got too heavy and you start to play different sports at school. I got a taste of athletics, netball, rounders all the normal stuff that is in PE and it was netball that I absolutely loved.”
She loves athletics too and just last year she turned out for the Newham & Essex Beagles in the javelin, she tells me.
That competitive streak comes out in her younger sister too though.
“it’s not just her, I am a Beagle as well,” Kadeen volunteers excitedly. “I did the sprint hurdles and I came fourth, no third. It is a long distance you know, I did 13.5, I’ll never forget that.”
They come from a very competitive family. Father Algie played cricket for Glamorgan seconds, their mum excelled in a host of sports, while there are countless relatives involved in sport too, including cousin Asha Philip one of the top sprinters in Britain.
Philip certainly had her injury problems along the way to stardom and the Corbin sisters suffered too with Sasha rupturing her Achilles heel and Kadeen damaging the cruciate ligament in her knee just three months later.
“When the sport that you love is taken away from you, it makes you want it even more,” says Sasha. “It was about seeing the little progressions you make.
“I wasn’t able to walk for almost three months. I had a boot and I was on crutches for months, then I was able to walk with those, then I could walk in the boot.”
Kadeen is keen to trump her sister. “I wasn’t able to walk for eight weeks,” she says. “I had a brace as well, but I tried not to just sit on the couch because they said I had to keep the blood flowing, but we had Mum looking after both of us at the same time.”
Injury made them want to progress in netball all the more and now both are established in the England team. The shorter Sasha is wing attack or centre, Kadeen at five feet 10 inches, is a goal shooter.
They now seem inseparable. They play for Mavericks together and for England together and for sisters that is a remarkable achievement.
“It is funny because we kind of aspire to be as great as the Williams sisters in our sport,” says a proud Sasha. “They are great role models. Serena is amazing in what she does and we would like to have that kind of impact in netball.
“We kind of feed off each other, we are able to play with each other because we don’t fight for the same position.”
They were separated for the first time in the Autumn when Sasha’s injury forced her to miss the trip to Australia and New Zealand. It was a big learning curve for Kadeen without her big sister.
“It was tough at the beginning, knowing that since the start of my time with the seniors I have been on every tour with Sash,” said Kadeen. “In my head I was saying, I know she is not here, you just have to do your job, then you can go home, but it was a very hard process.”
Sasha chips in: “It was a great opportunity to see her grow as a player,” says big sister. “That was a challenge in itself and she was able to get through that and she played amazing out there.”
Sasha combined extensive training and playing with being an ambassador for England netball, while Kadeen is the Netball Academy coach at the school she went to as a youngster - Barking Abbey - which has been named as a Performance Pathway School by England Netball as they look to find the players of the future.
The Corbin sisters are very much the players of the present and superb role models. Our time is up as they have to rush to training and there is just time for a quick picture where I look like Humpty Dumpty next to these two highly toned athletes.
The Commonwealth Games put these sisters and the rest of the England team into the limelight for a few brief weeks, but these two dedicated athletes deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Asha Philip, as Laura Robson, Jessica Ennis-Hill and maybe even those Williams sisters.
Now that would be deserved.