When Claire Maxwell was growing up in Aberdeenshire, the national netball team was so far removed from her reality, she didn’t even know the name of a single Scottish player. 

Now, just over two decades on, Maxwell is on the verge of becoming Scotland’s most-capped netball player ever. 

It has been, even for Maxwell herself, an unbelievable trajectory. 

“From a young girl up in Aberdeenshire who didn’t know who anyone in the national team even was to now, potentially becoming the most-capped player is pretty unreal, it’s not something I ever expected,” the 34-year-old says.  

“It’s a huge honour and every time I pull on the national dress, I’d never take it for granted so I can’t believe I might actually become Scotland’s most-capped player ever. It feels pretty unreal.” 

And its on one of the biggest stages of them all that Maxwell will, all going to plan, add to her current tally of 121 caps to overtake the current record-holder, Lesley MacDonald. 

Maxwell will lead her team at the Netball World Cup, which begins today in Cape Town in South Africa but she is in no mood to merely pick up her caps quietly; Maxwell wants her side to make a real impact at what will be the 34-year-old’s third World Cup. 

As captain, she will need every shred of her experience as she guides seven of her players through their maiden World Cup but rather than be daunted by the number of fresh faces in this year’s squad, Maxwell is thrilled by it. 

“I love the blend of experience and youth – it gives that extra bit of excitement and the younger players bring a fearlessness with them which is great for the team,” she says.  

“The more experienced players like myself can share our experience and knowledge with them and we can get caught up in their excitement from being at their first World Cup so I feel like we all bounce off each other.” 

The Scottish Thistles, who are ranked tenth in the world, have a testing draw; they will face Barbados, Malawi and, the top ranked team in the group, England. 

With England ranked third in the world and Malawi sixth, Scotland, who are coached by former England internationalist, Tamsin Greenway, will need to cause an upset if they are to progress to the knock-out rounds. 

But Maxwell is more than hopeful her side can do just that. 

“I want us to reach our potential; I see what we can do in training and I want to show people that we can do it on these big stages too.  

“Our highest world ranking has been seventh so I’d really like to finish in the top eight in a major championship,” she says.  

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“We’re happy with our draw here. I’m so excited to hit Malawi in the first game and we also have England, who’ll be going for the gold medal.  

“There’s a lot of familiar faces in the England team so we know what they’ll bring. 

“We know it’d be huge if we can do something against England but we’re also not naïve about where they are – a lot of their players play in the Australian league and are full-time professional players and their collective ability as a group is massive.  

“They’re also very experienced so they’re always very tough to play. 

“But actually, we want to see England do well too because that’ll only help the sport’s profile, so it’d be perfect if it could be us and England who qualify from the group.” 

For Maxwell personally, this World Cup comes at the end of what has been a hugely successful season. 

Having been named player of the year for her club side, Strathclyde Sirens, Maxwell is in the form of her life. 

Much of that is, she is certain, down to the fact that the juggle of being a working mum and a netball player has focused her mind in a way she has never before enjoyed. 

And while it is not, she admits, an easy task to combine all aspects of her life, it has benefitted her netball considerably. 

With her two-year-old daughter, Lucy, making the trip out to South Africa with Maxwell’s husband and parents, she has even more incentive to make sure she performs to her best over the coming days. 

“I’m really happy with my form this season,” she says. 

“Being away from Lucy to train and play does make sure I don’t want to waste a minute of it. 

“Particularly when I’m training, I’m really focused on what I want to do and the quality of my training has definitely increased.  

“And being a mum means I also switch off from sport when I’m home and I think that balance has helped me massively so hopefully I can take my good form into this World Cup.”