SJA Sportswoman of the Year: The case for Helen Housby

VOTING HAS NOW CLOSED to decide the winners of three major categories at the British Sports Awards 2023, to be held at The Kia Oval in London on 7 December; Jake Wightman, Beth Mead and the Lionesses claimed the 2022 honours; who will take the top prizes this year?

By Ayisha Gulati

Helen Housby, cat lover and exceptional shooter from Cumbria, was instrumental in the Vitality Roses reaching their first-ever Netball World Cup final in 2023.

Despite losing to 12-time champions Australia in the final, Housby was named both player and best shooter of the tournament in South Africa.

England became the first team other than Australia and New Zealand to have made it to a World Cup final since 1995, and the Roses dramatically beat both the Diamonds and the Silver Ferns along the way.

Their route to the final included a historic 56-55 victory against world number one Australia in the pool stages, a match where Housby had a 100% shooting record and was player of the match.

After beating all the teams in their pool, the Roses topped their group and secured a semi-final against world number two and reigning champions New Zealand.

After suffering consecutive World Cup semi-final defeats to the Silver Ferns in 2011, 2015 and 2019, England showed tenacity all over the court to win 46-40, with a run of six goals in the final quarter.

In this match, Housby exemplified how much of a team sport netball is, as commentator and former England captain Pamela Cookey claimed “Housby has been every inch the defender,” despite her shooting position.

This was echoed with “really smart play from Housby” and “Housby is everywhere” on commentary as England secured the win.

England’s silver medal matched their best finish from 1975 when the tournament was held in a round-robin format.

Housby ended the competition with an incredible 122 goals from 129 attempts, giving her a successful shot percentage of 94.6%.

As well as success with England this year, Housby’s domestic team New South Wales Swifts reached the Australian Grand Final, with Housby winning the club’s Most Valuable Player of the Season award.

Not content with providing inspiration on the court, Housby fulfilled a long-term goal of hers off the court as she launched her own brand CLUTCHH this year.

CLUTCHH is a training club for aspiring shooters aged 6-16, coached by Housby personally as she is committed to giving back to the community, with 10% of all profits donated to charitable causes.

Despite Housby’s remarkable year in terms of achievements and accolades, she said her highlight of 2023 has been adopting Roger, her street cat.

She said: “I know it’s ridiculous but he’s helped my netball: feeling happy and fulfilled off-court makes me play better on it.”

Sports journalist Ayisha Gulati is a member of the SJA Academy – find out more about membership here.

Visit our SJA British Sports Awards 2023 hub article for more information. To book your place at the Awards lunch on Thursday 7 December, click here.

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