Trojan tenacity

The Tottenham netball team bringing more than 40 years of experience to the game

Fay Downie speaks to the team at half time
Credit: Cherelle Bryan

Troy Netball Club’s head coach, Fay Downie, sipped her morning coffee as she sat in her leafy back garden − in a few hours’ time she’d lead trials for the 2021/22 season at Tottenham’s oldest netball club.

How would things be different as netballers came out of lockdown? So many London clubs had shrunk because of members leaving London for good or battling long Covid. How could she bring the club back together? What might 18 months without league competition mean for Troy’s appetite to winning?

Team line up on match day
Credit: Cherelle Bryan

Fay established Troy netball and football clubs in 1977, taking the name from Greek mythology and the cunning tactics used during the Trojan siege and the battle to recover Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world.

She has been championing grassroots netball in Haringey for more than 40 years, making the sport accessible to girls across the community. Sadly, with so much organisation needed, the football club no longer exists.

The netball club’s first team developed from the folded Broadwater Farm’s Blue Arches netball club, which Fay had coached previously. Several original members, like Sharon Philip and Theresa Magloire still play and umpire today at a competitive level.

Funding for an after-school club during the 90s helped attract more players, by providing somewhere for youngsters to build their skills and get homework done. One of the highlights during these years was the training camps run by Bath University, inspiring and developing Troy’s teens.

The club is a melting pot, and a real family made up of locals, ‘blow-ins’ and others who travel from the capital’s far-flung corners to play for the club. Troy netballers come from diverse backgrounds, bringing influences from the Caribbean, Africa, and the UK to the game. Players ages range from 20-60+, with all abilities and fitness levels.

Troy originals
Credit: Courtesy of Troy Netball Club

Fay said: “With so many pressures on women at work and at home, we’ve strived to support them to stay in the game they love throughout the years. Some return after being away at university or having babies – it’s a special moment when much missed players return from illness or injury.”

Following a great turn out at trials in August, Troy has grown in membership, with the club fielding four teams in both the North London and Middlesex leagues: prem, first, second and fourth division.

Last year, many of Troy’s members took part in a series of conversations about racism, set up by England Netball, (the national governing body of netball in England), in an effort to better understand Troy’s diverse membership.

Teacher, Beth Link said: “We’re committed to supporting our local leagues to build their self-awareness and take responsibility for driving out prejudice and micro aggressions. We’d love to see netball leadership representing the diversity of its membership.

“To enable this, our club is focusing on home growing more diverse umpires for local leagues, and representing on the diversity committees.”

Coaching at Troy instils a positive attitude toward competing and a growth mindset to developing individual talents.

“Elite players don’t arrive at Troy, they’re homegrown! Nothing is fixed,” says Fay.

“If you show talent, there’s nothing stopping you. Egos aren’t accommodated − positions in our first team can be filled by players from the lower teams, as we try out new combos to see what works well together. Our teams are all the better because of it.”

If you live in Tottenham and would like to train with your neighbours, training is on Thursdays (6–7pm for Back to Netballers, 7–9pm for the whole club) at Markfield Park multi use games area, N15 6EB. Everyone’s welcome. If you’re a Blue Arches or an old Troy girl, get in touch.

Stay updated by following Troy’s progress in the leagues on Instagram, follow: @TroySports.

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