Documentary following Scotland's netball team for the two years leading up to their appearance in the forthcoming Commonwealth Games.
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In just a few days, Scotland's netball team will
take on the best in the world at the Commonwealth Games.
12 amateur sportswomen - dentists, police officers
and teachers who train in their spare time -
will take the court against elite professional athletes
from across the globe.
For the past two years,
we've been following their journey to the far corners of the Earth...
That is some welcome!
..and closer to home,
It was a bit of a disaster, to be fair.
And if you think tonight was your A-game,
you need to bring your Triple-A-game to trials, please.
Hosting the Commonwealth Games is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity
for Scottish Netball to transform this little-played,
under-funded sport and try to produce a world-class team.
This is their story.
A little bit.
Just in that very last range.
Two years to the Commonwealth Games and Scotland's star netballer,
Lesley MacDonald, is battling an injury that could end her career.
Without Lesley on court, the team haven't won a match in a year.
I had ankle surgery 13 weeks ago.
Wear and tear over the 14 years I've been playing
at international level has taken its toll.
I've never had an injury before so it's been frustrating.
The Commonwealth Games is something that I definitely want
to be a part of, it's the pinnacle
of any netballer's career to be involved with.
It's always going to be my decision to retire, no-one else's,
and certainly not an injury that is going to make me retire.
The Scotland squad - the Thistles - are training intensively.
Denise Holland is the first full-time,
professional coach Scotland has ever had.
She's four years into a six-year programme to get the girls
ready for the Commonwealth Games -
a job that's pushed her to the limit.
All coaches make personal sacrifices and I'm a very driven coach.
I live in Kent, I've travelled every single week to Scotland.
I've got two children and it's ten, six years,
really, out of my life, and six years out of theirs
to be able to get Scottish netball to where it needs to be
in the Commonwealth Games.
But that is an uphill struggle.
Back in the 1980s, the Thistles were sixth in the world.
Now, they're 15th - a ranking that would not get them
to the Commonwealth Games on merit.
To do that, they need to start winning matches
and fight their way back to at least 12th -
a key target for Denise.
Time's running out for her to turn it around.
Today, the sport's governing body, Netball Scotland,
are packing up their cramped office in central Glasgow...
..and moving to the brand-new Emirates Arena,
built to host the Commonwealth Games.
The cards let us into the building.
Maggie Murray has been tempted out of retirement
to lead Scottish netball to the Games.
A wee picnic out for everybody.
She's under pressure to use this unique opportunity
to grow the sport.
It's overwhelming at times.
It's a small sport, there has been considerable
investment from Sport Scotland to bring us to where we are now.
We've got to build netball from the bottom again in Scotland,
because it's gone to sleep over the last 15 years,
and we've lost out in many areas, so we've a lot to catch up on,
and I think that's all possible.
To try to raise the profile of netball,
Maggie has enlisted expert help.
I can't really hear you at the back, darling.
I have traditionally worked in the hospitality industry,
so how I've come back to netball, I don't know,
but I think that you can get drawn back to things that you love.
Today, Claire Nelson is meeting a sports bra manufacturer
to try to negotiate a sponsorship deal.
If she succeeds, this will be a rare
and much-needed commercial sponsor for Scottish Netball.
I thought this could be really great product to use,
because it's one of our bestselling sports bras...
-In Scotland colours!
-..in Scotland colours.
'This meeting is incredibly important, as is every meeting
'and every conversation I now have with any potential partners'
and supporters, whether they are contributing financially
or in terms of products in kind or PR, or whatever it is,
because we cannot achieve what we need to achieve without support.
I think they're great, I like them as individuals,
they're passionate, I like their energy,
and I think we can do some really good stuff together.
So I'm excited!
Claire Brownie's life is netball.
One of Scotland's top players, she also works full-time
as a PE teacher and coaches the school club at night.
Claire grew up on a farm in Aberdeenshire.
Her mother, Norma, also plays netball and coached her as a child.
When they were playing at primary school,
it was reasonably fun, really, at that age,
but she showed her talent.
Claire's room, which, as you can see, is pretty...all netball stuff.
There's a big difference in the children,
because I think you can see the ones who are naturally talented
at sports, and the ones that need the help to develop.
But Claire, she was quite determined to win those balls
in front of her team-mates.
It's just a cap that they got for playing for their country.
It's amazing that they manage to fit everything in,
all their training.
And it's always the first thing, you know,
when she comes up here it's always, "Right, I'm off to the gym."
Sometimes when your alarm goes off at 5:45,
you think, "Oh, an extra wee half-hour would be great,"
but, no, you've always got the end goal in your mind
and you know you've got to do it because everyone else is doing it.
And because there's a group of us it makes it easier
because you know everyone else will be at training
so you can't be that person that lets the team down.
That makes it a lot easier, I think, being part of a team sport.
The Thistles are training for a major test of their progress.
They're going to the South Pacific to play
a series of international matches in the Cook Islands and Samoa.
If they win, they'll move towards that crucial 12th place.
If they don't, Denise could lose her job.
It comes down to results,
and I totally recognise that we should be sitting around 10, 11
right now in the world, and we're not.
Netball Scotland have applied the pressure in terms of
questioning whether or not I'm the person for the job.
And it is a pressure which, you know, I haven't particularly
enjoyed, but I'm a national coach and that's part of my job.
Team Captain Lesley will go on the tour.
But whether she will have recovered enough from surgery to play
is not yet certain.
It's hard to kind of keep your emotions in check,
and there are times I've cried all the way home in the car,
because it's just been one of those days,
either work's been difficult and I've come onto the court
and done some stuff and it's not been where I wanted it to be,
and it's just...
Yeah, it has been quite an emotional roller coaster.
For both captain and coach, the Pacific Tour will either make
or break their hopes of leading the team to the Commonwealth Games.
Not a lot of sleep last night.
Getting organised, but all set now, so looking forward to it.
It is the first time that I've had away, the first, like,
really long haul flight, so I'm really excited about it.
The tour will cost £45,000 -
a massive sum for an amateur sport.
To justify it, the girls need to win matches
and begin to move up the world rankings to 12th.
It is a challenge, absolutely a challenge.
You know, all of our athletes are
in full-time employment or education,
and myself, I'm a full-time accountant, as well,
so it is very hard to work with that,
but, you know, these guys work miracles with the little funding
that we do have, and we've made it happen, and it's very exciting.
First stop on the tour is New Zealand.
Here, netball is huge, second only to rugby in popularity.
It's a professional sport with multi-million dollar sponsorship.
The athletes are superstars.
-The noise is deafening!
Being a netballer in New Zealand is the highest profile
sport for women in New Zealand, so it is on television very often.
You walk down the street and everyone recognises you,
and I think it's because we are on TV at least once a week,
it makes us quite a household name, and you inspire people.
That is quite lovely.
Netball, it's the number one sport in New Zealand.
If you have a look at it, we go from primary school,
it just develops all the way through,
and that takes time.
We've got a wonderful competition, I think that's what's helped a lot,
the Ainslie Champs, so all your top players are playing
week in, week out, and that is something that Scotland lacks.
COMMENTATOR: What a finish!
What a finish! The stars shine on New Zealand!
The Thistles are training hard, and they've picked up a new player.
I was playing over in the Super League season in the UK this year,
and travelled a bit up to Scotland
to see my family, my mum's side of the family,
she was born in Scotland,
so I had a bit of a training session
with the team at a trial,
and it turns out they needed an extra player for this
Pacific series, so it came about pretty suddenly, I suppose,
so it's been really exciting, definitely.
If Denise has her way, Rachel will become a permanent fixture.
Rachel's hoping to move to Scotland to look at selection towards
the Commonwealth Games in 2014,
so it's just a case of her finding herself a job in Scotland.
But she would be a huge asset to the Scotland team.
Next stop, the Cook Islands.
The team will play a tournament against the Cooks and Wales,
both ranked higher than Scotland.
To start climbing towards 12th spot, Scotland need to win.
We're not coming away with anything less, really.
-No, we really want to win this one.
-It is a win or... You know.
Well, we will win. No question.
I feel ready. We're ready to win now.
That's some welcome!
The media pounce on the visiting squads,
and even the Prime Minister invites them for breakfast.
Netball is a very popular sport among the womenfolk of this country.
And any politician ignores that at his or her peril.
Once upon a time we were third in the world.
We were the Pacific Queens of netball.
But we're, what, tenth now?
So we're trying to rebuild that back up.
Actually, we're 13th. But we love our netball here.
The first match is against the Cook Islands.
It's a tense moment for the Scots.
In terms of me personally,
I know that there is an enormous amount of pressure,
I suppose, to get results,
but I really want them to feel success, it's really important,
and I really do believe that if they start to feel success
then they will be away.
This will be a turning point in their,
if you like, their journey now towards the Commonwealth Games.
For this vital match, Lesley has made it back on court.
And the Thistles storm through
with their first international win in 17 months.
-And our final score for tonight,
Scotland 55, Cook islands 25.
I think everyone performed out of their skins,
everyone put in a really good performance
and as a team it seemed to just come together.
It was just an absolute privilege to be out with these guys tonight,
really, the rewards just seeped in there
and we're absolutely delighted with the win.
Sunday is a day of rest in the Cooks.
The squad make the most of it.
Trying to find what's dry and what's not, and claiming back what's mine.
But netball and their quest to improve
is never far from their minds.
If we get good results against the Cooks,
against Wales tonight and then against Samoa,
we'll hopefully be in a position that we should be in
and not sitting at 15th, where we currently are just now.
Their next match is against Wales - tenth in the world.
We know that we are a bit of their arch nemesis.
Every time we've played them in the last three years we've beaten them.
So, you know, tonight's game is going to be...
They're going to come out all guns blazing.
We know that and we wouldn't expect anything less from Scotland,
so we're looking forward to it.
# Mighty, mighty, mighty, mighty, mighty, mighty, Scotland!
-# Mighty, mighty, mighty, mighty, mighty, mighty, Scotland! #
For the first three quarters, it's neck and neck.
15 minutes to go, and there's only one point between them.
But, in the final quarter, Scotland crumble.
They lose by 15 points.
ANNOUNCER: And your full-time scores,
Wales 48, Scotland 34.
We kept driving, the timing was fantastic for the Scotland girls,
and in the last quarter, they let themselves down and were unable to finish it.
For me, for my goal, it was to come out there and play
with the success and the ability I know I have,
and unfortunately for that last quarter it just wasn't there,
so for me that wasn't an accomplishment at all,
it was a bit of a disaster, to be fair.
In their final match against the Cook Islands, Lesley cannot play.
This time, the Cooks up their game and win.
ANNOUNCER: And the full-time score, Cook Islands 36, Scotland 31.
The Thistles go on to play a three-match test series
against Samoa, currently ranked 12th in the world.
Scotland win it two to one.
So, the Scots leave the Pacific with a mixed bag of results.
The squad take the positives from their first wins in 18 months.
We're all just thrilled that it all came together at the end there
and we can just enjoy the success of our tour.
Learned a lot throughout, it's been quite up and down, but I think
as a squad we've really gelled well together and we've really enjoyed it.
We won't know officially for a while yet,
but it should mean that we go up in the world rankings.
I think we'd have liked to have beaten the Cooks twice
but, you know, a narrow defeat, but, nonetheless, we learned
a lot from that, which we were able to take into the Samoa test series.
Back at Netball Scotland HQ, the mood is different.
There are some challenges that still remain in terms of our consistency.
We have problems with depth and who replaces our experienced players
when they go down, so there are concerns there still.
But I think the main thing that I would gather from that tour
is that we have set another benchmark here,
and, you know, we should not drop below that now.
But before they're back in action on court,
there's a new role for the girls off court.
Having clinched the sponsorship deal with the sports bra company,
PR consultant Claire Nelson is on a mission to maximise publicity.
The squad must now play their part
to promote both their sport and their new sponsors.
But, just as her work to raise the profile of netball
begins to pay off, there's a huge blow for Claire.
At a strategy meeting between Netball Scotland and Sport Scotland,
she learns that funding for her post is running out.
This is my position we're talking about, you know,
it's the white elephant on the table.
I know that what I can bring into the organisation is funding...
'Conflicts largely arise, you know, because we don't have the resources,
'but we know someone'
who will actually bring that sponsorship to us,
who will bring that investment to us, you know,
that will enable us to make all of the other things happen,
and that's why Claire's position is pretty critical at this point.
You know, step up, take the leap of faith and invest in our sport
and make it real and make it happen.
But Sport Scotland won't budge.
There's to be no new money for Claire.
She'll have to try to fund her own job by bringing in new sponsors.
And there's an opportunity to do that soon after
when Netball Scotland hosts the World Premier Club Challenge.
You walk in here with a sponsor, it doesn't take us too much to
persuade them to come on board because they can see where we are,
they can how professional we want to be,
they can see where our aspiration is,
and the heights that we want to reach in order to make this game
get into the heart and soul of every young girl and woman in this country.
This isn't just a big day for sponsorship.
Maggie will be watching to see
if the costly Pacific Tour has improved the team's performance.
By the final day, the Scots have yet to win,
but this is their best chance against Northern Ireland.
For Denise, it's crunch time.
Maggie is looking for nothing less than a win
in front of their home crowd.
But Northern Ireland score the first goal
19 seconds into the game and charge ahead of the Scots.
By the end, Scottish hopes are in tatters.
We were outclassed today,
and we need to go back to our planning and just see.
We have 18 months left, and we need to make sure that we still
build the skill base, still build the fitness and the power.
In a further blow,
Scotland learn that the mixed results on the Pacific Tour
have not been enough to improve their world ranking after all.
Denise resigns as national coach
by mutual agreement with Netball Scotland.
The definition of madness for me is to keep doing the same thing
and expect a different outcome.
We're not where we should be in terms of our results.
It's also a pressure from our own board,
they are asking what's happening with our team?
Our performances are inconsistent,
our national squad seemed to struggle, performing in front
of their home crowd, and we're not drawing audiences in.
They're looking to me for answers.
Obviously, when I took the job, it was my goal to be a national coach
of a side and take them to a major competition.
And to complete my journey,
if you like, having not achieved that, it is disappointing for me.
Certainly, when I came into post,
the organisation was a very small organisation
and there was no framework for performance development,
no structure, really no leadership,
and now I leave it four and a half years later, there is
much more in place, and I'm really proud to have built
the framework for performance development.
We know she did her absolute best but, at the end of the day,
it's about THAT performance,
under pressure, it'll be in the Commonwealth Games, the world
will be looking in on that, and, under that pressure,
we have to make sure that we have the right person leading that squad.
18 months out from the Commonwealth Games,
and Scotland have no national coach.
It's obviously a shock when that happens,
and it was, obviously, a big disappointment for the squad.
I think what Denise brought was a lot of leadership skills,
and in this modern time,
it's probably one of the biggest challenges
some of us will have to ensure that everyone's still motivated,
still pushing themselves,
still trying to achieve to the peak of their abilities,
even though we don't have that leader in place at the moment.
Until a new one is found,
the gap will be filled by volunteer coach Mary Tough.
Mary has a full-time job
and already coaches the Scotland under-21 side in her spare time.
So, it's a huge commitment. But, for the team, it's a lifeline.
We might not like change,
but I think it's in all aspects of our lives.
So, for me, the message back to the players has been, you know,
let's see this as a positive change,
it was made by the board for whatever reason, they felt it was
the right reason so let's just embrace it and move forward.
Guided by Mary, the girls continue with a training regime
that must fit around their jobs.
Mornings, it's an early rise, and straight to the gym.
Today, up at six o'clock, grab some breakfast, head over to here,
get through a weight session, quite a short weight session this morning.
Then grab a quick shower, head over to the south side of Glasgow to work.
I'm a dentist at a practice over in Shawlands.
Got lots and lots of patients this morning.
And quite a busy afternoon as well.
Then finishing work at about 6pm,
heading over to the city centre for a wedding dress fitting.
I'm marrying Gail Higgins,
who is currently just trying to get back into the Scotland team.
She's a dental nurse as well, so we work together
we train together, so it is really good from my point of view,
in terms of having someone who knows exactly what's involved.
That's lovely, isn't it?
Because it's so sturdy, you can't get it right to the sides...
Several evenings a week, it's back to the stadium
for a late training session.
I love playing netball.
I love playing netball, I love playing netball for my country,
and that's what it takes, so, that is just the way it is, isn't it?
On a rare day off,
veteran player Nicola Collins is meeting up with her dad and her
brother Neill who's a professional footballer with Sheffield United.
He's come to the Institute for Sport in Largs for a coaching course.
The two can't help comparing notes on their sporting lives.
Often, me and my brother talk about it, and he's just amazed
that I'm driving home from training knowing that I'm getting up
to train again, to go to work, when they just need to wake up,
get to training, and it's... It's not an easy lifestyle,
but it's a lot easier than a netballer's lifestyle.
I can't believe how she manages sometimes when I speak to her,
she's travelling through from Edinburgh to Glasgow after
a really hard day at work, and an intense session at netball.
Then the same the following day, then spends her weekends,
you know, training sessions, and really, they are full-time athletes.
We hope they can get some success,
maybe if it's the Commonwealth Games great, but huge respect for her
and everything she's achieved so far has been phenomenal.
For Maggie, there's just one priority.
The search for a new coach.
The job advert has attracted an outstanding application.
It's from Gail Parata, a former New Zealand player
who's tipped as the Kiwis' future national coach.
When I opened the application, the sense of relief, you know,
My hand almost shook on the mouse to try and open the document, you know,
because I knew this was going to be a good one.
You know, so I only needed to read just a few sentences
or sections into the application to know our troubles were over,
and, subject to everything going well with the process
still in front of us, then tremendous opportunity.
Closer to home,
Netball Scotland have a new recruit with Olympic credentials.
It's a really big, exciting day.
There's a lot of excited staff out there in the office
because we are welcoming our new patron,
Katherine Grainger, CBE, 2012 London Olympics gold medal rower.
I watched netball internationally for the first time
years ago with New Zealand playing Australia.
And it was a different thing I remembered from school.
It's a very, very fast, dynamic, powerful, passionate game.
And I think people have forgotten that, or don't know it,
and, actually, to see it, I think it'll make people think,
"Actually, I'd love to try that."
It's a great day for the morale of the team, you know,
but it also, for me, heralds the new dawn for Scottish netball.
And to have this fantastic Scottish sportswoman,
this amazing role model, it's a dream come true.
So, it kind of, for me, it's a lot of work, but it's exciting,
and it's me starting to see
the fruits of my long and laborious labour.
their behaviour will be inspiring to lots of people who watch it.
And that makes you a better athlete, a better person,
when you are not just accountable to yourself or your team,
but you feel the wider impact of what you do.
I think if they get it right,
they've just got this incredible opportunity ahead of them
that will change their lives, but also the lives of a lot of people around them.
And that is the best you could ask for in sport.
Amidst all the excitement, there's a blow.
As a New Zealander,
the new coach Gail Parata needs a visa to work in the UK.
But Maggie and Netball Scotland chair Freda Hutchison
are informed of a delay.
Just on the news last night, the UK Border Agency has imploded
on itself and is about to be dismissed by Westminster.
It's a nervous moment for us. This is critical that we have her here.
If we have to go over there and kidnap her and bring her here,
we're going to do that, but she has to be here,
it's critically important for us at the moment.
And, most importantly, for the players, that they have
a coach in front of them right now.
It's a bad time to be without a national coach.
A week from now, it's the European Championships.
And the team have also been missing one of their star players.
Claire Brownie has had surgery on an injured ankle.
Her place in the European Championships team is in jeopardy.
She's on her way to find out the results of an MRI scan
of her ankle.
That will show whether she's fit to play.
If anyone can get Claire back on court,
it's Scotland's leading sports surgeon, Gordon Mackay.
There's obviously been a serious reaction around the capsule.
The joint itself has been swollen
so that's going to restrict your range,
and also inhibits your muscles, and causes extra give.
An ex-footballer himself,
he has treated some of the biggest names in football and rugby.
He's not yet happy with Claire's ankle.
We're in for a wee settling phase, that's what's really required.
It'll let everything around that ankle joint calm back down,
-but you have to be patient.
-We've got European Championships next week.
Next week? Well, do I need to answer that question?
It would be lovely if you could, but I wouldn't recommend it for you.
-Really... You probably think you can play...
-I can play.
-You can play?
See, this is always the dilemma.
What it boils down to is you feel you can play.
But if I was looking at the scan objectively,
you'd have to say that it needs a settling phase to come good.
I wasn't expecting it when he said it. I was a wee bit shocked.
And I think because I wasn't prepared for it,
it took me back a wee bit.
So, yeah, just shocked and, I guess, upset, disappointed,
but, you know, it's sport, these things happen.
This year, the European Championships are on home soil...
..in front of a home crowd.
But, as Scotland take to the court against Northern Ireland,
there's only one spectator on everyone's mind.
Her visa hasn't been granted yet
so she can't take up her intended post as the national coach.
But she can advise as an international consultant.
So she has come from New Zealand in her own time to catch
a first glimpse of the girls in action.
With so much at stake,
Claire Brownie has decided to play against her doctor's advice.
But she isn't on court for long before her bad ankle takes a hit.
It is a toss-up. It's your heart over your head.
You can go back and forth, but it's a decision you've got to make.
And we all make mistakes.
Scotland go on to lose the match.
Next, they face England.
Just a very strong side.
We struggled to adapt to any changes that were put on.
Really, if I'm honest, it's not really acceptable.
And, finally, archrivals Wales.
They finish without a victory but there is a feeling in
the Scottish camp that this time the results don't tell the full story.
We're always going to be disappointed when we lose,
but we really nailed some good stuff out there today,
so, we fought to the end, which was good,
and we wanted to ensure that we put on a show for the crowd, to show
how far we've come, but also how much more we can still bring to the game.
We haven't managed a victory,
but we are closing the gap on each of the teams significantly.
They've had a long period of time now without a coach,
but now we need that uber-performance coach who knows
how to put them together as a team on the court.
And there is one opinion everyone wants to know.
There's some real, raw talent out there
that I know that I can mould into
really great players and I know they can do that in a short time.
So, lots of potential in there.
Good evening, everybody.
And a very warm welcome to this special moment, this special day.
We're here with Gail and June as they exchange their vows together.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
These occasions are great and they always bring teams together.
It's nice to just relax and enjoy yourself
and it's not all the serious training and things, so it's good.
-And a different dress, for once.
-Yes. A nicer dress.
We spend so much time with each other now that they're like family to us.
So, having them all here is just like having the rest of our family.
-All here to have a great time and have a day off from training.
A rare day off, actually.
The girls, all of them look beautiful today
and it is just nice to have that time outwith the court
and intensity that we have to train at on a day-to-day basis.
It's nice just to have that outlet as well.
One year to the Games.
As the countdown begins in earnest,
Claire is achieving unprecedented media attention for netball.
One of 17 Commonwealth sports.
The press and major activity around netball has been absolutely amazing.
We've had the Prime Minister visit the Emirates Arena.
And as always, I managed to have my netballers
in the back of every picture of him
across all the national press the next day.
But money for Claire's PR role with Netball Scotland
has finally run out.
She's decided to keep working voluntarily for now
but that creates pressure at home.
I'm the luckiest woman in the world that I have a really supportive
husband who sees that I need to do what's important to me
and what I am passionate about.
I don't ever cry.
And I feel guilty...
..that I'm turning down jobs that can make a big difference because
I'm stubborn and I'm ambitious and I'm passionate about what I do.
But I believe that effort equals results.
And I have worked too damn hard and had too many successes to just
accept that this is going to be the way.
There has got to be a solution.
For the players, too, careers hang in the balance.
The long squad for the Commonwealth Games is about to be selected,
a group of 18 players from which the final squad of 12
will eventually be picked.
Gail Parata, the intended new national coach still
doesn't have a visa to work in the UK.
So, again, she's flown in from New Zealand in her own time to
help advise in this vital selection.
Tonight, she is watching the senior team play the Scotland under-21s
who are also eligible to try out for the team.
On court, the youngsters are more than holding their own.
There are a group in there that are trialling for positions. All right?
Now, tonight, I thought they played better than you guys.
So, remember that, you are up against half of those players down there.
You need to bring your A game to trials
and if you think tonight was your A game,
then you need to bring your triple-A game to trials, please.
Competition is fierce. The trials are open to any eligible player.
Rachel Forbes, who joined the Thistles on their tour of the Pacific,
has flown in from Brisbane, Australia.
It's going to be competitive, that's for sure,
especially with the other girls I don't know. It just depends.
Everyone is in the same position,
it's always going to be competitive, no matter what.
Every girl knows that her Commonwealth dreams
depends on her performance on court.
It's just fingers, toes, everything crossed now
to hope that I make that 18
to then have the chance to be in the 12 to represent Scotland.
Obviously, Gail is holding her cards very close to her chest at the moment.
So, we all just have to do our best and hopefully that's good enough.
But doing their best is harder for some.
Hayley Mulheron gave up her job as a police officer to
focus on netball.
But in this crucial week of trials, she's fallen ill.
At the moment,
I'm currently unwell. I have been since Tuesday.
I have managed to get through
but I don't think I will be able to play today.
Last week in our training matches I had a slight injury.
So, today I won't be doing any fitness tests,
possibly not any of the trials at the weekend,
so it's causing a lot of stress and worry.
One player who isn't on court is Nicola Collins.
She's decided to withdraw from the squad.
Deciding to leave the squad was a really difficult decision.
It absolutely cut me up.
I knew the Commonwealth Games were coming up
and that was something that I had focused on for years and years.
But I have been juggling my job in Edinburgh alongside
netball training for ten years.
I'm starting to think, I'm getting a bit older,
am I really enjoying this as much as I should be?
And at that point, I realised that perhaps it was time to step down
and retire from the international scene.
I almost feel that a weight has been lifted off me and I feel
a new lease of life so I am happy with the decision that I have made.
After five days of trials, the senior players can do no more.
But they will have to wait an agonising two weeks to
learn their fate while their rivals in the under-21 squad have
an ideal opportunity to show Gail what they can do.
Glasgow is hosting the major tournament for under-21s,
the World Youth Netball Championships.
20 nations are gathering for the biggest netball event
Scotland has ever hosted.
How are you feeling about it?
SHE LAUGHS That's how I'm feeling!
It's just exciting. Very exciting.
It's just amazing.
I think it's surpassed my expectations of what this
could look like.
It's just the realisation of actually how wonderful
this is going to be and we are just really excited. It's fantastic.
I can't wait to see our girls play down there
in their new Scotland dresses.
And as the Scotland under-21s prepare for their first game,
a surprise visitor arrives.
The chance to deliver in front of home crowd
and to deliver your ultimate performance, that is so good.
That is just what athletes live for.
For Scotland's younger players,
it is a chance to catch the eye of Gail Parata.
It's the opening match of the tournament.
The Scots win comfortably against the Cayman Islands.
But the opposition gets tougher.
Then, a vital win against Northern Ireland.
Two more hard-fought matches,
and the young Scots finish in the top 12 -
the highest position for a Scotland team in years.
Though Claire has been working flat out on the event,
there is still no new funding for her post.
We're all exhausted, we have been working 16-hour days
and I've been so proud of how we've delivered the event
but the future's a little bit uncertain.
That is what's kind of weighing heavy on my shoulders
but I'm looking forward to getting to the end of it
so that I can see my children,
I can eat properly and I can get a bit of a life again.
For the players, the wait is nearly over.
The long squad for the Commonwealth Games has been chosen.
That's probably my phone call. I'm going to take that, if that's OK.
-Hi, Jane, Gail speaking.
Just calling to let you know congratulations,
-you have made the long squad.
Yep. That's fantastic.
All right, Jane, well, well done and congratulations.
Thank you, Gail, thanks for your call.
That's good. Good girl.
You worked so hard.
-Hi, is that you, Gemma?
-Yes. Hi, Gail?
Well, I'm just calling to say congratulations,
you are in the long squad.
Thank you very much.
Gemma comes from a sporting family.
Her dad is the former Scotland rugby captain David Sole.
Capped 47 times for Scotland and the British Lions,
he has had many an anxious wait for selection news.
This is why I didn't want to be filmed.
Because there would be blubbers!
I was saying to Mum, I've been picked for Scotland, picked for the Lions,
but nothing is as nerve-racking as waiting for that call, I tell you.
A gibbering wreck.
-Is that you, Hayley?
-Yes, hiya. How are you doing?
-Congratulations. You're in the long squad.
I can stop pacing up and down now, like. Oh, my God.
-So, well done.
-Thanks very much. Thanks, Gail. Thanks.
See you soon. Bye.
So, Scotland have their long squad for the Commonwealth Games.
Now, they need their coach.
But Gail's visa still hasn't come through.
Before heading back to New Zealand,
she takes the squad away for the weekend.
We're all so competitive.
We're in two teams, and we've done really well
on the first three tasks, we're just going to our last one now.
So, hopefully, we'll win that.
We're pretty convinced we've won them all so far.
It's about us trying to get to know the players from this weekend,
just to see who are the talkers,
who are the motivators,
who are the ones that show you leadership.
Cos that will help us take the squad forward.
Gail must now return to New Zealand, hoping that the next time
she comes to Scotland, it'll finally be as the national coach.
Tonight is a glittering awards ceremony.
But on a deeply personal note, this is also the last job that
I will be delivering for Netball Scotland for the foreseeable future.
We knew that funding was going to run out.
And I have been offered a role that I can't turn down
because I have four children.
So, you know, it is really sad but I'm sure there will be a few tears
later but I am here to do a job, still, and to go out with a bang.
Unfortunately, she moves to another job.
-We will retain her on the board.
If we could afford her, we would keep her.
We'd lock her in a room and never let her go.
'A particularly emotional night tonight'
because it is devastating for us to lose her at this stage,
so close to the Commonwealth Games.
She's been the lifeblood of everything
that is the image of our organisation.
And she is one of the reasons that I would get up every morning
and come to work because I knew that she was
there in the background inspiring me to do what I do.
I was very surprised by them bringing me out on stage
but I am very grateful for her words and I think she loves me
just as I love her.
-A wee bunch of flowers from us.
I was just talking about you two.
But soon there is some better news.
We just found out two weeks ago that her visa was on its way.
And ten days ago, she confirmed that she actually had it in her hands
and she could make arrangements immediately
so we're going to make sure that we look after her
and she is going to look after us.
because she's going to pull the best performance ever
out of this group of players for the Commonwealth Games.
I've been travelling I think it is 32 hours
and we are going to squad training tonight.
So, straight into it.
Gail is on a mission to improve the team's performance.
First, she takes them south to play a top English county side.
There's a delay on the road.
The bus that we have got,
evidently, there's something wrong with the gearbox.
So we are currently causing mayhem on the M25 on a Saturday afternoon.
So, yes, not ideal preparation.
But on court, the pace is quicker.
Next, a masterclass with the coach of the world number one side,
I'm doing some coaching here for the Thistles.
I'm a friend of the newly appointed national coach Gail Parata
and she asked if I was over here if I could come and help with some defensive work.
She's going to be working us quite hard
so everyone's a bit excited and a bit nervous at the same time.
And, then, a match against the Kiwis themselves.
Next, off to Cardiff to play Wales.
And, this time, finally a win for Scotland.
To beat the number eight in the world is a huge achievement.
Probably the biggest thing that came out of that week was just
the belief has skyrocketed for them
and they know they can challenge those teams in the top ten.
Four months from the Commonwealth Games,
there is a major test of how far the team have come.
A three-match test series against top ten side Trinidad and Tobago
in front of a home crowd.
The Scots take the series in style, winning every match.
Winning a test series against Trinidad and Tobago was great
but winning three matches in a row against them has been fantastic.
What happened tonight was just absolutely wonderful to watch.
A good score, with ten goals on the night.
I must say I was very happily surprised.
We couldn't be in a better place than where we are right now.
We just want to keep that momentum going, going forward into the world
champ qualifiers and then obviously on into the Commonwealth Games.
Eight weeks to the Commonwealth Games.
Scotland's recent wins have finally improved their world ranking.
They've made it to the crucial number 12 spot
so they will be at the games on merit.
Now, it's time to choose the final squad of 12 players who will
represent their country.
These girls have been pushing each other really hard.
So, I won't know myself until tomorrow for the trials
when we sit down together and run through what we've seen. So, yes.
Today has been one of the most nerve-racking days
I can remember in a very long time.
It was a case of having to put everything that we have learned,
particularly in the recent months, under Gail's supervision,
being able to put it on the court and trying to showcase
what you can do to get a place in the team.
If I was honest, I think I have been nervous since about August.
So, every day, this is what's on my mind.
It maybe slips my mind for a second
but it's always at the back of my mind.
And then it comes straight back to the forefront of my mind.
If I get selected, this is the pinnacle of my career.
I've been to three world championships already
but we've never made it to the Commonwealth Games.
And now there's 18 girls to 12, and hopefully I'm one of those.
The Commonwealth Games is the last thing I wanted to do before I retire.
I just have to hope that I have done enough to get picked.
After six years of training towards the Commonwealth Games,
the girls wait to learn their fate.
This player has a bright future for Scotland.
We're ready to go.
Well, a great week this weekend.
-You are in the squad.
-So, you're going to the Commonwealth Games.
How do you feel?
Over the moon. Proud. Glad that all my hard work has paid off.
I'm in! I got into the 12. I actually cannot believe it.
I'm so excited.
-You've made the squad.
-Yes! Thank you.
But not everyone can make the cut.
Gail is told before June she is on the reserve list
but has not made the final 12.
Congratulations, you're in.
Mixed emotions. That's all I can say.
Yeah. Full of emotions at the minute.
Absolutely delighted for myself that I got in.
And, obviously, just disappointed for her.
I have a whole range of emotions. I don't know. Clearly upset as well.
And we'll be naming you as vice-captain.
You're doing a great job for us. OK? You really deserve that.
Leading from, I was going to say the front, but also the back. OK?
-How do you feel?
-Fantastic. On top of the world. Awesome.
Absolutely awesome. That's five years I have been waiting on this.
The final squad is chosen.
The first thing they have to do as a team is nothing less than
assure the future of the sport.
They've come to Cardiff for the 2015 World Cup qualifiers.
Current funding for Scottish netball is only guaranteed
until the Commonwealth Games.
Future funding depends on winning here.
It's four days of nail-biting matches.
Only two of the four teams will qualify.
First, Northern Ireland,
the teams battle point for point all the way.
And Scotland snatch the win with the final goal.
I can't believe it, it was so nerve-racking out there, so nerve-racking.
It makes all the hard work and all the effort
and early mornings just worth it, it is just the best feeling.
The Scots come close but do not finish.
Now, they must defeat the Republic of Ireland.
This time, the Scots win by a huge margin. 60 points.
But then, it's an agonising wait
as Wales and Northern Ireland play the final game.
For Scotland to qualify, Wales must win.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
That's us qualified. In second place. The job is done. Tick the box.
Excellent by everyone.
And then we can move on now to the Commonwealth Games.
Two years ago, we were a small organisation. We had big dreams.
Our journey has been up, it's been down, it's been sideways.
It's been off the Richter scale, it's been on other planets at times.
We stand on a platform
probably that we have probably never stood on before.
The first time in the Commonwealth Games,
Sport Scotland have taken a leap of the faith
to keep investing in us.
It just means so much to our sport
and to Scotland to have achieved this.
It makes me very proud, very proud,
and proud to be associated with this international team
because they've written their own history.
Scotland's netball team will take on the best in the world at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. This amateur squad made up of policewomen and dentists, teachers and students, who play in their spare time, are about to face elite professional athletes from across the globe.
This film follows their journey for the past two years, as they try to climb the world rankings, reach the Commonwealth Games on merit - and capture the hearts and minds of the nation.