Loughborough Echo

Title winning coach to take leave of absence


LOUGHBOROU­GH Lightning Netball’s Sara Francis-Bayman will temporaril­y step down as Lightning Head Coach and Director of Netball as she embarks on an 18-month leave of absence.

Francis-Bayman will head ‘down under’ to Australia to spend an extended stay with her new wife Stacey Francis-Bayman who competes for West Coast Fever in the Suncorp Super Netball League.

Francis-Bayman will continue to support Lightning remotely as the side’s Technical Director while current Assistant Coach and Head of Lightning Pathway, Victoria Burgess, will step up into the vacated Director of Netball role.

Francis-Bayman said: “It seems like a strange time to leave after winning our first championsh­ip, but it’s time for me to prioritise things other than netball. I know this squad are in the best possible hands with Vic and will continue building something special at Loughborou­gh.

“I will be staying connected with the coaching team from afar and I’m massively grateful for the support

I’ve received from the University to allow me to maintain those links.”

Francis-Bayman’s successor Victoria Burgess boasts a rich coaching CV, assisting Lightning’s first ever championsh­ip in 2021, while also having experience of leading the England U17 Roses Academy side, and leading Lightning’s Performanc­e Pathway Programme which features over 200 of the East Midlands’ rising netball stars.

Burgess said: “I am excited and honoured to be appointed as Director of Netball at Loughborou­gh Lightning in Sara’s absence.

“We have spent the last three years working collaborat­ively within the Lighting VNSL coaching team and building our performanc­e pathway which has seen huge success.

“I am looking forward to working with our incredibly talented athletes, building on what we achieved last season and defend our championsh­ip title. I would like to thank Loughborou­gh University for their continued support.”

Lightning’s 2022 title defence campaign gets underway on February 5 at Birmingham’s Resorts World Arena in the Vitality Netball Superleagu­e (VNSL) Season Opener event.

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 ?? BEN LUMLEY/ STILL SPORT ?? Sara Francis Bayman is handing over the reins temporaril­y to Victoria Burgess, right
BEN LUMLEY/ STILL SPORT Sara Francis Bayman is handing over the reins temporaril­y to Victoria Burgess, right

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