Player for England’s first Male Netball Team becomes one of latest Make a Difference Award winners

Player for England’s first Male Netball Team becomes one of latest Make a Difference Award winners

A budding teen netball player, who plays as part of England’s first ever all male side, is one of the latest Lancashire teens to be awarded funding by Dan’s Trust.

James Firminger, 16, from Burnley, became interested in the sport when he started watching his Mum, Bernadine, play at Burnley Netball Club when he was just five years old. Since, he has been practicing and training for close to eight years after he started playing for the mixed team at his primary school.

James said: “I currently train at Belle Vue Sports Village, Manchester for two hours on a Saturday and at Moss Side Millennium Powerhouse Manchester every Wednesday evening for the Manchester Spartans. I also play at national level, as I was selected to be in the first ever England Men’s Netball Team, The Thorns.”

With a £1,000 donation from Dan’s Trust, James will be able to attend more games and training camps without relying on his parents.

He continued: “My parents help me travel to training, netball camps and games. As there is no funding at all for either the Spartans or England team my family pays for everything; travel, accommodation, kit, food, and some of these camps and games require a 2 or 3 night stay, so the costs can be high.”

James added: “I would love to make it to the Olympics in 2032 if Netball is accepted as an Olympic sport.”

As well as supporting James, Dan’s Trust – which turns 10 next month – has also sponsored 15-year old gymnast, Finn Connolly from Barrow, under-16 Manchester United player, Matilda Crawshaw and 14-year-old gymnast, Genevieve Metcalf, from Blackburn.

Co-founder and trustee Ian Bagshaw, said: “With the 10th Anniversary of Dan’s sudden passing upon us, we are honoured to be able to continue his legacy by supporting extremely talented teens, like James, in East Lancashire.

“So many young people from the area missed out on opportunities to practice and develop their sport due to the impact of Covid-related lockdowns, and we’re hopeful that our Make a Difference funding will help them make up some lost ground by paying for extra courses and equipment.

Follow the journey of Dan’s Trust recent Award-winners and current ambassadors at