Welcome to Sky Sports Editions, where we meet remarkable sports women as they direct their very own cover shoot. Alongside all of the live sport coverage on Sky, this series provides a space for these extraordinary athletes to tell their personal journeys, in their own words. Here, netballer Helen Housby shares her thoughts on gold medals, motivations and how it feels to be a trailblazer in the 21st century…
Netball player Helen Housby is familiar with the taste of victory. In 2018, her England team etched their names in history, clinching gold at the Commonwealth Games. Housby’s decisive score in the very final second of the game secured the win by a singular point. Now living in Sydney, Housby, whose story unfolds in Sky Sports Editions, plays for the New South Wales Swifts. Beyond her stellar gameplay, she leverages her position to inspire and empower women and girls to enter the playing field.
The quintessential sporty girl, Housby dabbled in every sport imaginable during her school days. From tennis to athletics, she was the ultimate athletic dynamo — her love of football nearly steered her towards a professional career in the sport, but netball ultimately emerged as Housby’s true passion.
Even with her mega career, to Housby, she’s still the girl from a farm in rural Cumbria — and she loves that side of herself. On the court, her demeanour exudes a down-to-earth quality — case in point, that viral video of her casually dancing on court before springing into action. “Social media sometimes paints a very polished version of someone’s life, but I love nothing more than playing a bit of footy or chucking on some wellies for a muddy walk around the farm.”
Equally, Housby doesn’t confine herself — she relishes heading back to the city and getting glam. And why not? “Being a woman,” she asserts, “doesn’t mean you have to fit a certain stereotype.” Housby’s fashion sense reflects her adventurous spirit, allowing her vibrant, competitive, and affectionate personality to radiate through her style — which is why red suits her to a tee.
There’s a not-so-subtle nod to England rose red in Housby’s Sky Sports Editions shoot, as she pairs a dramatic red organza and tulle skirt overlay with a powerful blazer silhouette. In her cover shot, her swiftness on the court comes to life through a gravity-defying hair plait: equal parts fierce and glamourous.
Winning remains Housby’s driving force — a quality which has propelled her as a pioneer in sport, making significant moves to open up the playing field. “I’ve always been extremely competitive,” says Housby. “The longing for success and that winning feeling is what motivates me, especially now that I know what it feels like. The 30 minutes after the whistle blows and you’ve won a huge final win are the most fun minutes of your life.”
The gold medal from that remarkable game ranks among Housby’s most cherished possessions. She affectionately describes it as “irreplaceable — a symbol of England Netball’s remarkable journey and success, and a keepsake from the most unforgettable month of my life.” Equally meaningful is a ladybird necklace gifted by her grandmother. Two sentimental pieces that embody her two greatest passions: sports and her family.
As for what’s shaped Housby into the person she is today, she reflects, “I moved across the world when I was 21 to play for the NSW Swifts — I didn’t know anybody at all, not even my teammates or coach.” This experience endowed her with confidence, knowledge, friendships, and a place to call home. It also sparked her love of travel and exploring new places: “I’m hoping to travel to Fiji later in the year and do some work in the local community.”
A true trailblazer, Housby’s commitment to effecting positive change never wanes, and she uses her influential platform to encourage women to get involved in sports, beyond school and university. She observes, “There’s a much steeper drop off than with men. I think it’s seen as more socially acceptable for men to keep playing sport, but perhaps women aren’t encouraged to do the same as much and are focusing on other pursuits.”
Housby recognises that she’s a role model for young girls — something she doesn’t take lightly, especially since she lacked female role models when she was young: “A lot of my role models were men, because that’s who I saw on the TV.” As a result, she’s taking her position even more seriously. Her current mission is on achieving gender parity in social sports, a goal she believes will bolster the visibility of elite-level sports. “‘Women’s sport’ is just ‘sport’ — there doesn’t need to be a distinction when we talk about it.”
Stay tuned for the next episode of Sky Sports Editions, coming soon on Refinery29.