PE teacher Willis ready to lead the girls in green

Hannah Willis
Hannah Willis

Jordanstown woman Hannah Willis has her sights set on lifting an international trophy as Northern Ireland netball captain this Sunday.

The 29-year-old Larne Grammar PE teacher will skipper the girls in green in the inaugural International Festival of Netball tournament which gets underway at Antrim Forum on Thursday.

Formerly Hannah Irvine before her wedding during the summer, the Graduates star has been at the heart of Northern Ireland’s impressive rise in recent years and believes the team can achieve another high in the coming days.

The quadrangular tournament promises to be highly competitive with all four participating countries closely bunched in the world rankings but Northern Ireland will have the crowd behind them against Botswana, St Lucia and Barbados.

“It’s great to be playing in our own country for a change – I’ve won over 50 caps at full inernational level but the vast majority of these matches have been played overseas,” said Hannah.

“These are the sort of opportunities we want as players, so it’s important to put our best foot forward and show what we can do.”

Northern Ireland go into this invitational tournament ranked 11th, one place behind Barbados and one ahead of St Lucia with opening opponents Botswana the outsiders based on their 18th rank.

“We’ve done well over the past few years but if we can win this tournament it would be a massive endorsement of the progress which is being made. That’s an ambitious target but a realistic one if we produce our top performances consistently over the four days.

Tickets can be booked through Netball NI on 02892 668412.