Netball World Cup: Beatles, record breakers & sell-out crowds
|2019 Netball World Cup|
|Dates: 12-21 July Venue: M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool|
|Coverage: Every match from 15 July onwards will be broadcast by the BBC. Live texts on Home Nations matches on the BBC Sport website and app.|
The dust has barely settled on one Scottish World Cup campaign and here comes another to get stuck into, as their netballing compatriots look to make their mark on the international stage.
The Scottish Thistles are heading to Liverpool for the Netball World Cup 2019, which starts on Friday. They will take on England, Uganda and Samoa in their Group D round-robin preliminaries, hoping to finish in the top three and earn a place in the second stage.
Having placed ninth the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018 and now reached their highest world ranking of seventh, the Thistles are out to prove themselves capable of competing. But why should you watch the action on Merseyside over the next few days?
- How much do you know about netball?
- Follow live TV and online coverage across the BBC
- Netballers podcast: World Cup preview
The off-court entertainment
Given the host city's reputation for producing more number one hits than anywhere else in the UK, there will of course be a Liverpudlian twist to the 10-day event - and some Beatles covers.
The opening ceremony on the city's waterfront on Friday promises plenty of colour, music, dancing and pyrotechnics to welcome the competing nations to the tournament. And to make all 16 feel welcome, they will have Canadian singer Capri Everitt sing each and every team onto the court with their own national anthem.
Everitt is, of course, in the Guinness World Records for singing 80 national anthems in their host countries in one year. When she was 11. And why not?
A meeting with the Auld Enemy
No matter if it is netball, football or tiddlywinks, facing England always adds a bit of excitement to any sporting showdown. The sides meet on Saturday, with the world's second best team and Commonwealth champions likely to pose an onerous test for Scotland.
Now coached by Tracey Neville - the sister of the England women's football coach Phil - the Roses have a World Cup bronze and have their sights on gold at a home tournament. Scotland will have to be at their very best to even compete.
Netball is on the up
Netball is the fastest growing and most popular team sport for women around the world and is proven to increase body confidence, a common barrier for young women in sport to sticking with sport. In Scotland since Glasgow 2014, there has been a 71% increase in participation - 8,400 playing at the last count compared to 4,919 a few years ago.
And should you fancy having a go, almost all local authorities are on board, with 60% more clubs since 2015 and more national competitions than ever for those who want to take it more seriously.
All but a few hospitality tickets for the sessions featuring Scotland's games are sold out. In fact, tickets for the 10-day event have pretty much all been snapped up.
During Glasgow 2014, the BBC's coverage of netball reached an audience of five million and the World Cup qualifiers of all four host nations were broadcast this year. Furthermore, the BBC Sport website will broadcast World Cup matches, with televised coverage from day four of the tournament.
At club level, it's proving popular too, with spectator figures for the Vitality Netball Superleague - in which Scottish franchise Strathclyde Sirens play - doubling last season.
Sirens lead the way
And when it is all done, you will be able to go along and support the vast majority of the Scotland players when they play for the semi-professional Strathclyde Sirens.
Scotland's biggest female team of its kind formed two years ago, and finished sixth in the now 10-team league in 2017. Based in the Emirates Arena in Glasgow, their Superleague games are broadcast live on Sky Sports too.
Failing that there are clubs all around Scotland to get along to, if you don't fancy picking up up a ball yourself after watching the action that is.
Test your knowledge...
BBC Sport has launched #ChangeTheGame this summer to showcase female athletes in a way they never have been before. Through more live women's sport available to watch across the BBC this summer, complemented by our journalism, we are aiming to turn up the volume on women's sport and alter perceptions. Find out more here.