Imperial College Union Netball 1st team and Imperial College School of Medicine (ICSM) Netball 1st team are set to battle it out in VarsityFest’s Headline match this year, after winning a public vote.

The vote, which ran until Friday 26th January, asked students to pick between Netball (1st Team), Men’s Rugby (1st Team), and Kabaddi for the Headline and Showcase matches. Netball gained 40% of the vote, with 216 students choosing the 1st team for the Headline match. Kabaddi achieved 32% of the vote, and Men’s Rugby (1st Team) gained 29%. This means that IC Kabaddi will be playing the Showcase match; they played their first match as part of VarsityFest only last year.

The choice of Netball for the Headline match comes after they previously played the Showcase match at VarsityFest 2017. In their application, they said the team were well suited to headline VarsityFest due to the “fast-paced and high-scoring nature of the game”, and promised to “offer a competitive match that is unlikely to be one-sided”.

Ellen Fletcher, Club Captain of Imperial College Netball, told Felix: “The 1s have had an incredible start to 2018, and haven’t lost a match yet – despite some initial nerves, the team are now working hard to keep their winning streak going through to Varsity! It’s an exciting change that a women’s sport will be headlining, and I think it shows how much people enjoyed the Showcase last year, and how far both clubs have come.”

A Union representative told Felix: “The student poll on Varsity’s Headline and Showcase has really opened up the event to include a spotlight on newer and developing sports, while highlighting Imperial’s inclusive sporting community. Netball’s successful Showcase in 2017 continues to be supported by students, pushing them on to achieve 2018’s Headline.“

This year is the first time the Headline match has been a women’s team since 2015, when Women’s Rugby were the centrepiece. Their game was overshadowed by a number of issues, including transport mix-ups meaning coaches left early, and allegations of verbal abuse from staff members. The captain of the club said at the time that the events “highlighted the sexisn that is unfortunately very present at Imperial.”

VarsityFest is in its 16th year, and will see ICSM teams competing against Imperial College teams across 11 sports. The matches will take place across three dates: water polo on Friday 23rd February; Hockey VarsityFest on Wednesday 28th March; and the main VarsityFest on Saturday 3rd March.