“It’s tough [when you see male footballers] and you think ‘I’ve trained just as hard as you’ but I never begrudge it because you have to see the rationale. They are watched by millions of people. #Women’s sport has only started to increase in awareness in the last 10 or 20 years while male sport’s been going since the 18th century. We are still making up that gap but as long as we see it’s moving forward, that’s what keeps you going.”
“Last January I went down to four days a week at work and I’ve used most of my holiday on prep and training,” Pamela Cookey, 30, England’s vice-captain, tells me.
They are elite athletes, and yet even the netball’s most successful players aren’t paid enough to discard their day jobs: preparation for the tournament has meant a balancing act of holiday allowance, altered working hours and supreme commitment.
When the netball equivalent ends later this month, that’s what the England team will be doing. Our top netballers will be going back to being genetic scientists, business development managers and zoology students (never mind “mothers, partners and daughters”).
Take a second to imagine Lionel Messi, heading home after the football World Cup, pulling on a suit and returning to the office, where he deals with a packed meeting schedule, a backlog of emails and an issue with a broken printer.