Emerging netball star Kaedin Gumbs hopes to follow in the footsteps of the 2018 Roses squad that won gold at the Commonwealth Games, while also promoting the sport to wider communities.

Kaedin, 18, currently plays for Manchester Thunder and has also been part of the Roses Academy squad for the last three years.

Born and raised in Manchester, Kaedin always loved sport growing up, but never thought an after-school netball session would lead her on the path to potential future Commonwealth success.

She said: “I started netball in year five and I remember it so vividly.

“I had to take a letter home for my mum to sign for after school netball with my teacher, Mrs Smith, who really encouraged me to go. I just loved it and Mrs Smith has been so proud of me since – it’s so surreal thinking back at that after school club to now.

“My mum and I always joke about how innocent we were signing that sheet - we didn't realise what was to come! My school had a local tournament and I met Rita Dixon, one of the coaches at Trafford Netball Club, and she told me to come down to a session. From there, I was at Trafford for two years and then I trialled for Manchester Thunder.

“I then got a call up for England when I was in year 11 so it was mad!

“That 2019 summer was amazing. Manchester Thunder won the NPL Under-17s tournament - which I didn't even think I would be selected for in the first place! Less than a week later, I got an England trial and I just couldn't believe it.

“It was more special because I had worked hard, but it also wasn't a massive focus - it just felt like a reward. It’s crazy that I’m now sharing facilities with the senior squad - I go up to Loughborough once a month to train with the Roses.

"Serena Guthrie is a legend and she's amazing. She’s such an inspiration to the sport and I sometimes can’t believe I’m training at the same level that she once did.”

With the Commonwealth Games now just around the corner, Kaedin herself is excited to see how the senior squad will do in Birmingham - four years after their gold-medal winning glory on the Gold Coast.

“It'll be amazing to build off the momentum that England built in the last Games,” said Kaedin.

“Having the Commonwealths locally is going to be incredible. You can feel that buzz in the netball community and everyone's really looking forward to it.

“England Netball has done a really good job to capitalise on the momentum with the recent rebranding, as well as developing our pathways and had that growth mindset since 2018. Participation has grown so much, even in like Back to Netball sessions. It's remembering why we all play and why we love the game. The Commonwealth Games is the pinnacle of our sport. It's my dream to go to the Commonwealths.

Ealing Times: Kaedin playing for the under 19 England squadKaedin playing for the under 19 England squad

“To hold that legacy and win gold again in Birmingham is definitely possible - and winning my own Commonwealth gold one day is a dream of mine.”

But while Kaedin “eats, sleeps, and breathes netball”, she is also a passionate advocate for promoting the sport to the masses – and uses her interest in business and marketing to do so.

She added: “I enjoy sports and everything surrounding it. I love combining my two passions of sport and business, particularly in a marketing aspect. Sociology also works really well with that in helping communities and people from different backgrounds, and understanding what people want and what their needs are. I also really like watching other sports, such as the WNBA and looking at their structures and seeing how that could help in netball in the UK.

“It's crazy that some people look up to me. I never realised until I went back to my primary school - St Hugh of Lincoln in Stretford - to see Mrs Smith and put on a netball session. It's an honour to be a role model for the kids there, and it comes with a lot of pressure and I know it's a big responsibility, but I just want to help other girls, like myself, to love netball - I want to give back.

Ealing Times: Kaedin has been helped on her netball journey, thanks to the funding received by SportsAidKaedin has been helped on her netball journey, thanks to the funding received by SportsAid

"I think netball at the Commonwealth Games is going to be amazing this year. It's going to be bigger and better than ever and I hope there’s a massive run off after Birmingham too with people being inspired.”

And Kaedin couldn’t have even dreamed about being part of the Team England Futures programme and pursuing a career in netball without the help of SportsAid.

“SportsAid has been crucial for me to be able to continue my netball journey,” said Kaedin.

“Funding for travel costs is essential for me and being able to relieve that financial pressure off my family has been vital in my journey. I wouldn't be here without SportsAid and it’s really exciting to be shown that someone believes in me. I'm really thankful for SportsAid for helping me throughout my career.”

Commonwealth Games England has appointed SportsAid to lead on the development, management and operational delivery of Team England Futures at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. The programme, supported by Sport England, will reinforce the importance of the Commonwealth Games, particularly one hosted on home soil, as a developmental opportunity within the talent and performance pathway!​