Birmingham JSoc netball team emerges victorious

They were among five teams taking part in the first inter-JSoc netball tournament


Birmingham and Bristol JSoc netball teams competing at the Student Sport Netball Tournament (Photo: Alex Mandel)

Student Sport held its first ever inter-JSoc netball tournament with teams from five different universities — Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Bristol and Manchester.

Birmingham Jewish Society team emerged as champions at the Nottingham campus event — coined Nottsball — winning the tournament undefeated.
Jenna Morris, the Nottingham JSoc team’s manager, who organised the event, said that the tournament was “a massive celebration of how far we’ve come” in terms of women’s sports in JSocs. 

Four years ago, Nottingham was the only JSoc to have a netball team.

Although Nottingham had previously lost to teams from Leeds and Birmingham, the side recently won their campus netball league, with Jenna praising the new players who had “transformed the team”.

As hosts, Nottingham finished third in the tournament, beating Bristol and Manchester but losing to Leeds and tournament winners Birmingham in a hard-fought match with a standout performance from the Nottingham JSoc team captain, Eden Cohen.

Despite missing a number of players, Leeds captain Ella Bloom praised the team spirit and said that the tournament was an “amazing experience and great to see teams coming together”. Leeds finished the tournament as runners-up, losing out to Birmingham in a high-spirited match which finished 17-9.

Birmingham player Tamzin Lester praised the strength of her side after their opening win against Manchester, where she was Player of the Match and where Birmingham achieved an incredible 35-2 scoreline. When asked at the beginning of the tournament about their chances of winning, Tamzin said: “We’re confident we can do it, but we want to just try our best”.

Like Jenna, Tamzin also highlighted the way that the Birmingham team has been able to grow since September, describing the tournament as “incredible for Jewish sport”. In their rematches against Leeds and Nottingham, Birmingham also saw incredible performances from Lauren Wise and Talia Rich.

Unlike the other three teams, yesterday’s tournament was the first time that the Bristol and Manchester JSoc teams had played against another Jewish netball team, with the latter never having played together as a side before the Nottsball tournament.

Mia Levy, captain of Manchester’s JSoc team, the Manchester Maccabees, said that her team had come to “make a name for ourselves and get involved with the community”, in spite of the day’s results. Mia said that competing in the tournament meant a “great deal” to the team and that they would be using the tournament to help with future aspirations.

Mia said that the Manchester Maccabees would be looking forward to working with UJS to help provide them with a space, “to get the support that we need to go upwards”.

Bristol’s Lexi Barnett, who was Player of the Match in two of Bristol’s games said that her team had been looking forward to the afternoon and had done a lot of team bonding. “I think it’s really amazing for lots of different Jews to come together across the country and just have a great day, no matter the results'', she said.

The tournament raised over £1,000 for World Jewish Relief (WJR) and It’s Never You, a charity which helps to support the parents of children with cancer.

These charities were selected by two of the managers of the netball teams, Nottingham’s Jenna Morris and Leeds team manager and former JSoc president Tali Hurwitz. Jenna said that she had chosen It’s Never You as one of the charities as she knew the founders, who had lost a child to cancer. 

Leeds manager Tali Hurwitz said that she had decided to raise money for WJR, having been on the Chief Rabbi’s Ben Azzai programme to Rwanda, which helps improve the circumstances of people in the country, as well as aiming to “care for the world”.

The tournament was supported by Student Sport, a collaboration between Maccabi GB, UJS and JAthlete.

A spokesperson for Maccabi GB said: “The Student Sport project is designed to support JSocs throughout the country to create and develop sports for their students.”

The project gives assistance to teams through a variety of ways, such as supplying the sports kit free of charge and also the payment of league and participation fees.

The spokesperson added: “This project is extremely important to the partners as there is usually a significant drop-off in the number of Jewish students playing sports at universities. We’re committed to providing these students with space and opportunities to play.”

They said that since launching Student Sport, they had seen “an incredible uptake” of students and JSocs who were organising their own squads and events.

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