Sophia Candappa missed most of her first season with Wasps Netball through injury but bounced back in her second to help guide the team to the title. Now she is thriving in her new role as an impact player under Head Coach Mel Mansfield.
Her game-changing efforts were rewarded against Saracens Mavericks as Candappa won her first ever Player of the Match honours.
“I’m enjoying being that impact player for the team but I’m mindful that it’s a completely different game when I come on in the second-half,” Candappa said.
“Usually I’m replacing Bongi (Msomi) at Wing Attack after she has put in the hard work to wear down the defender. We’re very different styles of player, so I can come on and offer something new.
"It really is a team sport. You can’t just rely on seven players winning you titles. The substitutions have been great for us and every player who has stepped on the court has made an impact.”
Candappa watched the team from the sidelines following an ACL injury as they went on to win the Superleague trophy two seasons ago. But the Wasps vice-captain came back strong and a year later started at Centre in the 2018 final.
She said: “It was amazing to come back in the second season and win with the team.
“It’s always difficult when you come back from a big injury like an ACL, there is always that fear you aren’t going to come back as the same player.
“I had great support from everyone at Wasps, they all showed that they believed in me and that I could get back to that same level of play.
“We talk a lot about what makes a winning team and for me it is a strong team culture.
“We all work for each other and we have natural leaders all over the court – it doesn’t just come down to me and Hannah Knights as the captains.”
Hannah Knights and Candappa have captained the Black and Gold since joining the Club. Candappa believes the combination works well because of their different leadership styles.
“Hannah is a brilliant captain to work with and I’ve been fortunate to be her vice,” said Candappa.
“We have very different styles of leadership. Hannah is a natural leader on court, in terms of setting an example and being a role model – she never gives up.
“My style of leadership is a bit more off-court. I try to bring the team together and promote that team
culture. That’s where I see my strengths as a leader.”
Candappa has won three successive Superleague titles but says that to win three in-a-row with Wasps would be the pinnacle.
She said: “I’m proud of every single medal I’ve won but to win three in a row with Wasps would be really special and to do it with this group would make all the difference.”
First published in the Strathclyde Sirens match day programme on 2 March.