Jayda Pechova harnesses selection rejection to enjoy landmark year

Jayda Pechova has been nominated for SportsAid's highly prestigious One-to-Watch award.
Jayda Pechova has been nominated for SportsAid's highly prestigious One-to-Watch award.

By Tom Harle, Sportsbeat

Rising netball star Jayda Pechova harnessed selection rejection to enjoy a landmark year on and off the court.

The Fleet youngster was twice overlooked for a spot in the prestigious England academy, the first step on the road to becoming a Rose.

But this year Pechova finally broke the door down and impressed so much that she took a double leap up to the Roses Futures programme, with senior honours lying in wait.

It was a vindication of the 18-year-old defender’s sheer persistence.

“For me, this year has been about pushing through,” she said. “When I didn’t get in the first two times, I was on such a low, I didn’t think there was any point in trying.

“Those setbacks make you so much better. If you don’t get what you want the first time, there’s nothing you can change, you’ve just got to work harder.

“I always struggle with my aerobic fitness and last year, I just asked to do fitness every time even though I hate it so much.

“I just needed to carry on being resilient no matter what anyone says about you.”

Pechova’s progression on the court has been rapid and she made the most of a chance to be a training partner at Super League franchise London Pulse.

That saw her rub shoulders with the likes of fellow defender Funmi Fadoju, one of the game’s hottest prospects, and shooter Olivia Tchine who is making waves internationally.

“Working with those guys made me progress so much quicker,” she said. “Marking Olivia every day in training, I could feel my level going up and up.

“It’s helped me work on lots of different techniques defensively depending on the shooter.

“I’m more comfortable in those environments now and I know I can ask a question, I’m not embarrassed to ask if I don’t know!”

Pechova also captained England U19 to a gold medal at the Netball Europe event and was then part of the U21 team who took victory.

Last month she started studies at the University of Bath and will play for Team Bath in next season’s Netball Super League.

Jayda Pechova will play for Team Bath in next year's Vitality Netball Super League
Jayda Pechova will play for Team Bath in next year's Vitality Netball Super League

Pechova’s superb 2022 has been rewarded with nomination for SportsAid’s annual One-to-Watch Award, shortlisted in the top 10 from a raft of 1,000 young athletes supported by the charity across 60 different sports.

The award was launched in 2006 to shine a spotlight on the outstanding achievements of Britain’s brightest young prospects, with Tom Daley, Hollie Arnold, Courtney Tulloch, Amber Hill, Morgan Lake and Alex Yee among the former winners.

Pechova, who received her SportsAid support through the Backing The Best programme this year, said: “I was so shocked. I didn’t even expect it.

“I feel like I’ve had a great journey this year but I’ve never put it in perspective and being nominated made me realise how much I’ve achieved.

“It’s really exciting to know I’m going to be up alongside those kind of athletes in the future. I’m really proud.”

The winner of SportsAid’s prestigious One-to-Watch Award will be revealed at the charity’s Celebrate the Next event, supported by Royal Bank of Canada, in London on Thursday 17 November. Please visit www.sportsaid.org.uk for further information.