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Becky Cantin - The Dual Athlete of Flyers Women

The all-around efforts of Becky Cantin have been a big factor in the Flyers Women’s high-flying start to the season – and are all the more impressive considering that, until recently, basketball was not her first sport.

Previously, the Cornwall native was a full-time netball player, joining the Flyers after winning the 2016 England Netball Premier League Two title with the Premier Romans.

A graduate of the West of England Netball Academy in Truro, Cantin went on to earn selection for the England Under-17s side and has played for teams in Bath, Exeter and Adelaide in Australia. She has also played alongside and against some of England’s biggest netball talent, including Kadeen Corbin, Layla Guscoth, Beth Cobden and Laura Malcolm.

The Flyers Women compete in WNBL Division One

“I love netball and I’m really pleased to see how much it’s developing now, but I wanted a new challenge,” Cantin told bristolflyers.co.uk.

“I’d sort of reached my peak and was playing at a really good level, but I really wasn’t feeling the excitement from it anymore.

“I was toying between taking up basketball or water polo – because I also used to be a good swimmer – and in the end went for basketball.”

While quite a daunting prospect at first, Cantin was buoyed by the feeling that her Netball experience had prepared her well for starting basketball.

“Just playing netball at that level you learn the key skills, you learn about spacing and all the tactical stuff that which interlinks as well,” she added.

“I decided I was going to try and play both sports at the same time. I joined a local league team in Bristol and at first doing my job and playing both netball and basketball was quite a challenge. Then I met Tilly (Flyers Women head coach Gareth Till) and he suggested I come and have a trial with the Flyers. It all went from there.”

While switching between the two disciplines is uncommon, there are notable examples. Ella Clark, another of Cantin’s former team mates, returned to professional netball in 2018 after a ten-year gap, in which she played basketball in America, Spain and for the Great Britain national team.

Flyers Women play their home games at the SGS College Arena

Despite the visible similarities between the sports, some of the biggest rule variations in netball – no tackling, restricted movement and a three-second limit for possession - did not make for the smoothest transition in Cantin’s early days with the Flyers.

“I was going through the motions a bit when I first started,” Cantin admits.

“I was trying to compete, but struggling a bit with the contact. I wasn’t used to people running up and stealing the ball out of your hands, so I gave up quite a few turnovers early on.

“I also wasn’t really going in for the contact myself, I was giving opponents too much space and letting them shoot over me. Obviously netball is non-contact and you have to be three feet away from your mark, so I found that a bit of a struggle and it took me a while to get used to.”

She would not be deterred by some early slip ups, though, and went the extra mile to adapt to her new sport: “At first there were so many different plays, so many different places I need to stand, so many things that I need to do just to inbound the ball. I could get very frustrated learning all of them and I found it really had to concentrate. 

“I was constantly asking questions and everyone worked so hard with me and had so much patience. They believed in me, that I could do this, and I’m really grateful for that.”

In the space of a season, Cantin has completely transformed her game, becoming an integral part of the Flyers’ game plan and one of their biggest defensive players.

At the midway point of the 2018/19 season, she is averaging 5.5 points and 10.2 rebounds per game – the latter statistic being among the best in the league.

“I was getting probably 10-15 minutes last season and wasn’t sure of the impact I was making on the court. Now I’m starting, so obviously a lot’s been going right and I feel so pleased I’ve been able to get up to that stage already,” she says of her progression.

Image Credit: Billy East

While confined to shooting as a netball player, Cantin says she is now revelling in all the different aspects of basketball – some of which she prefers over those in netball: “I really like boxing out. I love the rebound aspect - it’s really common to get a rebound in netball, but in basketball because you have to contest so much for the ball and there’s a lot more hype around it.

“There is definitely a physical element to netball – the girls who play in the highest leagues are so strong – but you only have small amounts of time against that. Basketball is constant hits and there’s so much more going on.”

While changing sports was not an easy decision, Cantin is safe in the knowledge it was the right one: “I’m getting really good feedback and I absolutely love the team,” she says, “They’re a great bunch of girls and there’s a great support system from the coaches. 

“It’s also great having that link with the men’s team, to motivate ourselves to play at the highest level. We’re so lucky to have that and I think it’s really been helping my game.”

Now fully embracing basketball, she is looking to the future: “I like to think if I’d started doing this sooner I could have done really well, so I’ve got a lot of time to make up. I want to be able to get my points up and be more of a threat on offence. 

“I’ve got a lot more to give and I feel I’m at the right place to do it.”


About the Contributor

Written by Jack Ford. A recent member of the Flyers Family, Jack has been volunteering with Bristol Flyers writing game reports on Flyers Women for the website and game day programme.

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