Meet the Northern Ireland netball star from Asda Antrim

July 1, 2019

Everyone at our Antrim store is really proud of our George colleague Cheryl Rea who's played for Northern Ireland in a netball career spanning 19 years.

Cheryl, who's worked at the store for nine years, says she still has the same love and passion for her sport as she did when she first started playing and hopes the success of the Women's World Cup in football will have a positive affect on her sport too.

She said: "With the ladies football World Cup in full swing I think it's very important that we celebrate women in sport."

Cheryl started playing netball in primary school. She was then picked for the regional team before being selected for the Northern Ireland team. One of her biggest achievements, she said, was winning a silver medal in the Netball European Championships.

Cheryl said: "This was the first time we had ever achieved this and also when I got my first cap for Northern Ireland. During this tournament I made my Sky Sports debut against England ... my claim to fame!

Following these championships, she got picked to play against South Africa – then the sixth best team in the world.

Cheryl said: "This was one of the best experiences in my life, not only playing against such a highly- ranked team but also getting to visit Cape Town.

"Another highlight I will never forget was when I was selected to play against Australia, unfortunately not in Australia but in a very snowy Bath. Australia were, and still are, ranked number one in the world so as you can imagine it was a very, very competitive game, but one I learned a lot from.

"My position in netball is a defender which meant I got to play against Caitlin Bassett – who is basically the Ronaldo of netball. She is the current Australian captain and standing at 6ft 5in tall she definitely wasn’t one of the easier opponents I have ever had. But not many can say they have played against the best in the world.

Before she stopped playing for the national team Cheryl was selected for a tournament against teams from England, New Zealand and Australia, playing against netball stars such as Verity Charles, Liana Leota, Caitlin Bassett, Caitlin Thwaites, Eboni Brown and Helen Housby.

She said: "I managed to achieve all this while working nightshift at Asda Antrim with the help of my very patient managers and section leaders giving me the time off when I needed it.

"Even now I still get every Thursday night off to train with my local club Valley Netball Club and 19 years later from when I first held a netball I still have the same love for the sport as I did back then."

Store manager Robert Ryans says everyone at the store has been watching Cheryl's netball career with interest and is really proud of her achievements.

He said: "Cheryl is a very popular colleague and everyone here would like to say a tremendous well done to her for all her achievements. To play for your national team is some achievement."

Cheryl can't wait for the Netball World Cup which us taking place in Liverpool next month.

She said: "For the first time ever Sky Sports are showing every single game live which I'm ecstatic about."

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