The netball island games has been a big step up for Shetland, team member Claire Thomason says – but they are loving every minute of it.
The blues beat Ynys Môn 60-49 in their opening fixture before succumbing 55-31 to one of the tournament favourites, Jersey, yesterday (Wednesday) morning.
Hosts Isle of Man lie in wait tonight at 6pm, and Thomason said they were relishing the chance to take on such high-quality opposition.
“We’ve found the Isle of Man to be a great learning experience,” she said.
“The games have been challenging and have made us think and learn as we go.
“[It’s] definitely a step up from what we’re used to! Jersey was a really challenging game and they had a different style of play that we had to work hard to counteract.
“But we want the challenging games as playing against better teams is going to make us a better team in the long run.”
She admitted there had “definitely” been some nerves before Tuesday’s opener – particularly as they did not know what to expect from their opponents.
“We were the first game of the whole tournament so we had no idea what our competition would be like, how it was to play on the court and have a crowd there.
“We knew Yns Môn had some girls who had been through the Welsh national set-up and the Celtic Dragon super league pathway, so the nerves were building.
“The first win was a real confidence boost to prove we can hold our own against some great players. It eased our nerves going into the next game for sure.”
Jersey proved a much sterner test, and Thomason said they were a “really physical, challenging team”.
But she added: “It’s important that we have them tough games as a team so that we can learn and improve our own game.
“The games we lose are the ones we learn the most from.”
Shetland face games tonight, tomorrow afternoon and again on Saturday afternoon to complete the gruelling five-day tournament.
Thomason said everyone’s legs were holding out “so far”, but that the final two games might test that.
“Some of the girls have been braving cold baths so we’re doing all we can to recover ready for the next day.”
Tonight’s game against Isle of Man is another stern test, but Thomason said they were “absolutely” looking forward to it.
“We know we have another tough game on our hands but we’re ready to give them a good run and hopefully come away with a win.
“They’ve got the advantage of a sold out home crowd as well, so we hope everyone at home will be tuned in and sending us all the luck from afar!”
The Shetland Times will post a link to the Isle of Man livestream just before 6pm in a separate news article.