Not many athletes get the chance to choose which international heavyweight to play for, writes Hannah Clarke.
Australian-born Kate Shimmin toyed over the decision to make the switch from the 11-time world champions to play netball for England, but as soon as she won her first cap, she knew she’d made the right choice.
The 27-year-old, who qualifies to play for the Roses through dual citizenship, made her debut for the national side in the final game of the three-match series against South Africa in December.
Despite growing up on the other half of the world, the Adelaide Thunderbirds defender was brought up with British traditions and hopes her grandmother would be proud of her for sticking to her roots.
“Both of my parents are from England, my mum Euness is from Weston-Super-Mare and my dad David is from York,” Shimmin said.
“My parents moved to Australia when they were young, and I was born there but I grew up very British.
“My nanna was an incredibly proud Englishwoman and it is an absolute honour to be given the opportunity to play for England, especially knowing how much my Nanna loved this country and how much I loved her.
“It’s been nice to be here and see where my roots are. It’s brought me closer to where my parents are from which is lovely. It’s nice to have a bit of connection with them.”
The inaugural Vitality Netball Nations Cup begins this weekend with world champions New Zealand, Jamaica, South Africa and England all competing.
Shimmin is the second Australian to make the switch to the Roses in recent years, following in the footsteps of Thunderbirds team-mate Chelsea Pitman.
Before taking the leap, Shimmin made sure to speak to her Adelaide team-mates who play for England and now, with the squad in a period of transition over new coach Jess Thirlby, she’s determined to add to her Roses caps.
“I’ve toyed over it for a long time,” she added. “I’m backing myself and I believe I have a lot to offer at international level. I want to see where I can take my netball career.”
“The way these women conduct themselves off the court is incredible and I know they all come together when anyone is facing a challenge.
“I was made to feel very welcome when I first arrived in the group. It has been a lovely, smooth transition. I play alongside Layla Guscoth and Beth Cobden at Thunderbirds and I play with Chelsea Pitman too.
“I made sure to ask a lot of questions and get a lot of good insight, but they were equally unsure on what’s to come with it being such a new group. I’m going into it with a very open mind and I’m so glad I made the change.”