Jo Pettitt relieved and delighted to shoot for Scotland

Jo Pettitt
Jo Pettitt
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Jo Pettitt has had to keep mum for the last fortnight but now she can shout it from the rooftops.

The Edinburgh-born netball player was one of the last to be named in Team Scotland for this summer’s Commonwealth Games. The 12-strong line-up was due to be announced last week but was held over until yesterday’s final team across eight sports was confirmed at Stirling Castle.

The 19-year-old has been desperate to tell friends about her selection and the way social media is these days, keeping a secret for a teenager is difficult.

“It’s exciting that we can just get it off our chests now and celebrate and enjoy it,” she admitted.

“We’ve had to keep it under wraps and it’s been very difficult.

“Obviously, people knew that the team was meant to be announced and I was asked a lot of questions by people but I’ve managed to keep it quiet until now.

“There were 18 or 19 in the squad and it had to be cut to 12. Obviously, it’s going to be gutting for the players who didn’t get in but, at the same time, you want to put the best team forward. Those that have been left out are very supportive of the team and want us to do the best we can.

“We were told a couple of weeks ago. The team was named just after the World Cup in Cardiff but the players knew before then.”

Brought up in West Linton, Pettitt started playing the game in primary five not knowing that one day she would be one of an historic group of players, Scotland making their first netball appearance at a Games.

She quickly developed her game when she joined Peebles Netball Club and then took another step forward when she played for Edinburgh Caledonian Hawks.

“Peebles Netball Club started when I was in P7 so there was a group of us who did summer training before starting secondary school,” the goal shooter recalled. “From there, we were selected and our coach Linda Nicholson was absolutely amazing. She pushed us so far and we had a great team.

“She inspired me to keep playing netball and to go on trial for national squads.

“When I started, there weren’t many teams in the Borders but we’ve been working hard to try and get more teams. Now, Berwickshire, Hawick and Kelso all have teams so it’s spreading fast. I also played for Edinburgh Caledonian Hawks and playing for them really brought me on. I was a young player and playing with all the adults and having to toughen up was a really good experience for me.”

Playing with older players in Edinburgh gave her more of a physical presence growing up and it is something that new Scotland coach Gail Parata noticed.

The New Zealander has brought in a new, tougher training regime and it has paid off with the Scottish Thistles, currently ranked 12th in the world, beating Wales (ranked eighth), Trinidad & Tobago (10th) and Northern Ireland (11th) in recent weeks.

“She has taken a very firm grip on the team and brought us all together as a squad. We’re united in a way now that we probably weren’t before,” Pettitt stressed. “We’re all working incredibly hard and our training in the gym has helped a lot. She lets us play sort of freestyle training with no umpires.

“It has had a big impact on our training – we had to fight with each other for it but, obviously skilfully and cleanly. We’ve definitely become more physically able. We’re fitter, stronger, faster and more agile than we were before.

“So I think we’re skilful but more physical and better tactically. In every way, our game has improved.”

Team Scotland has now risen to its biggest ever after the latest 102 competitors were added from netball, hockey, table tennis, swimming, athletics, cycling, shooting and triathlon.

Edinburgh teacher Craig Howieson was named in the table tennis team, not a major surprise after he helped Scotland to a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Championships in Delhi last year.

The Scotland men’s team performed well at the recent World Championships in Tokyo where they were seventh out of the competing Commonwealth countries so there is a chance of a medal in Glasgow.

Edinburgh-born trio James Chachia, Chris Grassick and Ian Moodie are all in the men’s hockey team and Edinburgh-based Linda Clement, Leigh Fawcett, Nikki Kidd and Sarah Robertson are all in the women’s squad.