A WORCESTER netballer says being selected to represent England at the Commonwealth Games is the fulfilment of a lifelong dream.

Jodie Gibson, who is in the third year of a sports studies degree at the University of Worcester, is heading to the Gold Coast, Australia, for next month's Games.

“When I found out the news I was really excited. There were a lot of happy tears,” said the 25-year-old, of Lower Wick, who also plays for city-based Severn Stars. 

“It’s always been a dream of mine to go to the Games. 

"Netball isn’t an Olympic sport so the Games is one of the only major competitions that netball gets to compete in.

“I remember watching netball at the Games in Manchester in 2002 and seeing those girls and thinking this would be a dream come true.

"When I was younger I never thought it would be something I could aspire to and achieve so it makes me so proud to have that opportunity to not only go to the Games but to represent England and make my family and friends proud.”

Gibson, who grew up in Bury, took up netball at primary school and was scouted during a match before being invited to join a local club.

“I tried every single sport and never fell in love with it until I started netball,” she said.

“I knew it was the sport for me because I took all my friends and said ‘OK, we’re going to play netball’ and each week someone would drop out.

"But I thought ‘OK, I’m still going to do this sport’ and I’m so glad I stuck to my guns.  I have had so many opportunities from playing it.”

Gibson, who heads out to Australia this month, said combining elite sport with her studies had been made easier by the support of the university and its staff.

“What I’m most looking forward to is being in that environment,” she added. 

“There are so many other role models and athletes I have always looked up to and aspired to be like. It is going to be an amazing experience.”

Gibson said the England team have impressed against some of the best teams in the world, particularly in the Quad Series where they came second after beating South Africa and New Zealand.

“The recent results we have going into the Games should hold us in good stead and we have to go for gold,” she added. “We have an amazing squad.”