TEAM Bath Netball’s exclusion from the new Netball Super League 2.0 is “bittersweet” for young talent in the South West, according to coach Kelly Browne.

A founding member of the Super League in 2005 and having won the title five times since its inception, Team Bath were snubbed despite tendering for the relaunched 2025 league.

Only six of the existing 10 teams survived the chop, meaning Severn Stars, Strathclyde Sirens and Surrey Storm join Bath in the wilderness.

Two new clubs, Birmingham Panthers and Nottingham Forest Netball, have been ushered in to take NSL 2.0 up to its full complement of eight teams.

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Bath, currently bottom of the NSL in 2024, have been given a crumb of comfort as England Netball has committed to keep South West players involved in National Performance League pathway competitions.

The sad news comes on the cusp of a new era for netball in England.

Players will earn on average 60 per cent more and the minimum salary will double, together with half of matches being played in major arenas.

Heavily involved with the sport in Weymouth, Browne is a UKCC Level 2 and Netball Dorset coach.

And, while Browne welcomes the extra professionalism in the game, she spoke of her sadness for players in the South West.

The best young talent in the region, including her daughter and Team Bath Under-19 star Ashleigh, will not get to realise their dreams of playing in blue and gold.

Browne told Echosport: “It’s bittersweet, really. For years and years, even when I was a child, I’ve always wanted to be able to play professional netball.

“Obviously, it’s never been available. So, it’s bittersweet because we can now say that Ashleigh and all the other girls I coach can now aim to be professional.

“Albeit, they have no Super League team in the South West to aspire to play for. At the moment, our nearest is Cardiff, London or Birmingham.

“That’s our three closest Super League teams if we wanted to play professionally. It is crazy.

“On a positive spin, they will continue with some form of player pathway within the South West.

“Team Bath would like to continue but they need to discuss it with England Netball. All the under-15s, 17s, 19s and 21s will hopefully continue.

“How that will look and whether we’ll be Team Bath, we don’t know yet.”

Browne also highlighted the lack of a major indoor arena in Bath’s failure to secure a place in the revamped league.

She added: “One of the pivotal factors was that we didn’t manage to secure an arena.

“I do understand the need for professionalism, but they could’ve been given another couple of years.

“It just seems that the South West has to travel the furthest and we seem to be on the backburner for sport and provisions. We don’t have any arenas.

“I'm gutted for the likes of Ashleigh, she has dreamt of playing for Team Bath since watching them live at Bath University many years ago. Her dream of playing professionally in the UK, however, is now something she can aspire to.

“It’s definitely a comfort. Although we’re upset about it, we’re still very grateful that we have been told the pathway will continue in some form.

“That’s an absolute relief. Without that, goodness knows what all these girls would do.”

While Ashleigh, invited to attend the England Roses Academy camp in 2023, is affected the news also has ramifications for Team Bath’s other Weymouth-based players, including WJNC’s Serenna Brodrick, Nancy Garman, Niamh Seeley and Francesca Eversden.

“All those girls want to wear the blue and gold,” Browne added.

“Asha Francis, who’s the Team Bath head coach, was at Bath when the Super League started in 2005.

“She’s worried that people will go and find other sports. If they can’t go and watch Team Bath in the Super League, what can they go and watch in the local area?”