10 May Kadeen Corbin – ‘My Commenwealth Story’
Last month saw the Gold Coast in Australia play host to the 21st Commonwealth Games, since its inception in 1930. From April 4th to 15th, competing in every Games since, England sent its largest haul of athletes ever (394), across all 18 sports being competed in. Finishing 2nd in the Games with a hugely impressive 45 (Gold), 45 (Silver), 46 (Bronze) medals totalling 136, a valiant collective effort was displayed throughout, however, it was a squad of 12 who stole the hearts and attention of a nation.
Led by Head Coach, Tracey Neville who is the Younger Sibling of former Manchester United & England Football Player Gary Neville alongside her Twin Brother Phil, England’s Netball Team, went into the games as one of the ten core sports at the Commonwealth Games. Following its inclusion at the Commonwealth Games in 1998, Netball has been dominated by Australia or New Zealand, with either Nation taking Gold or Silver in the 5 prior games before this year’s Games on the Gold Coast.
Come April 15th, England’s Netball Team found themselves in the final of the Commonwealth Games against the World’s Top seed, Australia. Having dug deep to ensure a dramatic comeback to beat Jamaica in the semi-finals, a silver medal at the very least was secured. Fast forward and it’s the final second of the Championship match, tied 51-51, Helen Housby takes the final shot of the game …..
Kadeen Corbin’s name is etched in British Sporting history as not only is she and big sister Sasha the first siblings to play together for the English netball team, but she is now a Commonwealth Gold Medallist and part of the first English netball team to achieve such a feat. Her journey highlights ever so well, that there is ‘beauty in the struggle’, and what the value of family is, as a foundation and driving force in achieving personal goals and aspirations. The Day of April 15th, 2018, will remain forever in the memories of the squad of 12 who flew out to Australia, and we now get an insight into life before, during and after for Kadeen Corbin.
OYH: Firstly congratulations, you are now a Commonwealth Gold medallist, how does it feel saying that out loud to yourself?
Kadeen: Ermmm…it’s only started to sink in now, if you had asked me 2 weeks ago, I would so omg I can’t believe it, even though I can still say OMG!!, it’s absolutely amazing to say we are champions. It’s just been a long road for us to get over that line, and I’m happy that it’s happened this year.
So let’s take you back to April 15th and it’s the Morning of the final, we’re told so many times that preparation is key, how was your prep come the Morning of the Final?
How we treat every game, is that we do exactly the same thing. You go to breakfast, have your team meeting, and then you prepare yourself. For me I like to listen to music out loud in my room, however this time around we had 6 people in an apartment, so we’re jamming, from there its final prep such as packing your bag, and then its game mode.
I then have my headphones in and zone out en route to the game. Up till and including the final, nothing changed…. same routine every single time.
Most of your career has seen your older sister Sasha by your side, how different was it not having her part of the squad for the Tournament and what role has she played in your career up to now?
It was hard, she was part of our training travelling partners who were with us 2 days up till we entered the village. It was nice having Sasha there till then, I was able to talk to her and let off anything in a way you only can with a sibling.
The day she did leave, I cried my eyes out! I felt like my left hand was gone, we’re so inseparable when it comes to netball. The last words she said to me were “go out there and do it, and play your best”. Those words were my assurance and I realised even if it was one of or both of us, we’re doing it for the name on our back.
Having started playing Netball at 12 years-old, and now amassed over 50 caps for England, how was the Journey growing up for you and what obstacles and advice helped you along the way?
When I first started out I hated ball sports, I was a gymnast then did athletics, and I never touched a ball! I saw Sasha playing when I was 11, and she was having a really good game, and I thought I’ll like to try this. When I first started I could never hit the ring but it was very much a case of the more I watched, the more I learnt. From there my route was never easy, I got turned down 3 times before I actually got into the England squad. I was determined I was going to make it.
My best advice would be working hard at what you love, the more I trained and enjoyed the sport, helped me get to where I am now. My love of the sport made it so much easier. Alongside that are 2 operations on my knee, multiple injections in my knees and ankles, and my coach at the time when I was 16/17 telling me I’ll never play as shooter for the England national squad. Although I was a defender coming up in the ranks, I always wanted to be a shooter.
Do you feel like a good part of your success was down to your support network? If so do you think if a lot of children who are passionate about a particular subject or activity, are more likely to succeed in their desired activity this way or is it down to taking ownership of your personal dreams?
I feel that it’s a bit of both, I feel that taking ownership of how you learn, how you train and how you play, as the only person that can do that for you, is yourself. I do believe a support system is crucial also. My family have always been a sporting family, so knowing and seeing everyone succeed at sport it pushed me to want to do well.
So overall I think it’s, taking that personal ownership, but also having that support system with family and friends.
You’ve travelled the World, playing the sport you love, what places have made the most impressions on you?
Soo…last year I had 6 months out in New Zealand, that really opened my eye to International netball. With that being said, I didn’t play that much in New Zealand, but it was an experience in a pro league, which I haven’t had before, so to do that made the experience one of a kind and to understand how New Zealand as a country works in netball. Looking out how they train, communicate and have fun, it really is a different culture and defo one of the best parts of my career.
It was hard and much more difficult than the English Super League, but really showed me what I needed to better and hopefully bring forward to my country when I play.
Now back home, how has the reception been, from Family, Friends and strangers? Is the Kadeen who flew out to Australia the same Kadeen Today?
Nope, everything is still the same! Nothing has changed, especially as I wouldn’t want to not be Kadeen. The reception has been absolutely amazing, the whole entire country has been behind netball since the start of the games, which the team really thrived off. It has been manic as well, the media has shot up to the roof, for the first 2 weeks back I didn’t really sleep that much and I’m probably still jet-lagged.
What’s really been good, is that we’re getting Netball out more than ever, it’s getting far more coverage on TV and people are starting to get to know Netball much more, which is what we want, to have every Netball League game shown on TV.
What have you been getting up to since you arrived back home?
I was back at training three days later and had a game at the weekend, and working towards the end of our season in July. Added to that, trying to get back into the time zone was very hard! The day after we landed we had to go to the BBC, and then Good Morning Britain, followed by a lot of phone calls for newspaper and magazine articles. Some of us were asked to visit schools for presentations. Most recently we’ve been invited to the BAFTAS this coming Sunday, which is the first for any Netball Team. I can’t wait!
We’ve also had contact with a few TV shows, such as a Question of Sport. We’re starting to get a lot of coverage and it’s only the beginning.
In previous Interviews and press run’s you cited your two main career ambitions as being to win the Commonwealth Games and World Cup. How does GB now go on to win the World Cup and how do you ensure your apart of it?
England training starts the end of July, so we’ll be back together full time, so that will all be about working your butt Off to get selected for the Tournaments before the World Cup. I will be working hard through those coming months, to make sure I’m a part of that team. Now that we’ve won the Commonwealth it’s just the beginning, other countries will now be coming for us, given that we haven’t won in so many years
Among your other talents, you were part of GB Gymnastics and celebrated your Commonwealth victory with a will executed backflip! How was Gymnastics for you and did it pave the way for you to enter into netball?
I did Gymnastics between the ages of 3 and 12, so it was quite young, but during those times you learn about your body and get stronger. Plus I was so small and only grew when I stopped Gymnastics!
Scenario time – “You’re on the coach to a game and have an option of three IPod’s all filled with songs by the same artist, which iPod do would pick?, Vybz Kartel, Lady Gaga or Justin Timberlake?
Well, I love my hyped tunes, dancehall and bashment, but that’s not till I’m in the changing room. So en route is my normally calm and get yourself together kind of music, so I’ll probably go with a Justin Timberlake on that one, but as soon as I get to the changing room I put on my Vybz, I need to get myself hyped.