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Wednesday 7th February 2018 @ 12:08 by Mark Phillip

Oldham Netball Club is celebrating after one its rising stars was honoured with a national call-up.

Berri Neil, who captains Oldham’s U15 side and represents Manchester Thunder at Under 19 level, has been called-up to represent the England U17 squad at the Europe Championships in Dublin in March.

Berri, 15, was selected after impressing at trials in Loughborough in January.

She is a part of a 12-woman squad, led by Head Coach Victoria Burgess and Assistant Coach Jan Crabtree, which will compete in a three game series against Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland.

The Roses enjoyed a clean sweep of victories at last year’s tournament and therefore enter this year’s event as reigning champions.

Berri, who led the U14s to the National Championships title last year, says she feels honoured to be selected for England at such a young age. Speaking to Reporter Sport, she said: “I was nervous at the beginning of the trial – especially as I was the youngest one there – but I soon settled in as I was surrounded by talented players and some of my teammates from Manchester Thunder.

“It feels like an honour to be selected for England and Netball Europe at such a young age, however sometimes it can be a challenge playing against other talented players.”

Berri, who has been at Oldham since the age of 11, heaped praise on her coaches’ encouragement throughout her journey. She added: “The coaches have been brilliant and have always been so supportive throughout my netball journey. The head coach, Pam Hazleton, has always pushed me to be the best I can be and I’m so grateful for that.”

In order to be in the best shape possible for the event in March, Berri says she will be training harder than ever with Oldham and Thunder.

She is hoping that her dedication will pay off when she takes to the court – especially with family members travelling over to spur her on. She said: “My family have been very supportive throughout my netball journey and always come to watch my matches. They will be coming over to Ireland to watch the tournament as well.”

Following her selection to the squad, Pam said she’s extremely proud of Berri in what marks a landmark achievement for the club. “Berry is very dedicated, she always puts 100% effort into training and is a great leader on the court.

“Berri is also the youngest player from Oldham to be selected for England U17s.

“I’m very proud of her but not one bit surprised.”

Berri will join teammates and begin their title defence with a clash against Northern Ireland on Friday, March 2, before taking on Wales and Scotland on Saturday and Sunday.

Picture: Berri with her Manchester Thunder team mates last season