Natalie Seaton shares her pride about London Pulse’s growth as she steps aside as CEO

Natalie Seaton, who stepped aside as CEO of London Pulse on Friday, reflects on their road to the Vitality Netball Superleague and shares her pride at the franchise’s growth.

The former England international, who founded the franchise and led them to successfully gaining a place in Superleague, has decided to sell her majority shareholding to an existing investor, Blue Sky Holdings.

Sam Bird will step up as interim CEO and, like all franchise directors, will be working closely with England Netball with regard to the Superleague’s next steps in the context of the ongoing global pandemic.

Upon announcing the news, the franchise stressed that despite these being “difficult times for everyone”, the change is not a consequence of the current circumstances and the club’s prospects remain strong and exciting.

As this change in structure reaches the wider netballing world, Seaton spoke exclusively to Sky Sports about her feelings at this time.

“London Pulse started as a concept. From me sitting in my office and thinking about what could be done for London,” Seaton said. “London has always been a hot pot for creating some of the best talent in the netball world.

“The capital has a rich history in terms of developing some of the greats in netball. You’ve got Amanda Newton, who used to be our head coach, you’ve got Sonia Mkoloma, but they had to go outside of London to play at the top level.”

“For me, having a top-flight team in London was critical for the development of the sport and for all of those young aspiring players to have somewhere to look forward to playing for.”

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Seaton ensured that Pulse grew from solid roots, commencing with junior pathways, before building a viable and solid business plan to take the entity to the Vitality Netball Superleague.

As a result of her hard work and that of her team, entry into Superleague followed in July 2018 and the outfit replaced Team Northumbria in the 10-team elite UK competition

“It’s so important that you can support your local team,” Seaton said.

“Having to look elsewhere, whilst you might have an affinity to the team for various reasons, there’s nothing that beats that passion you have for supporting the place where you grew up. A place that you’ve got an intrinsic link with.”

Seaton loves creating things and being innovative so the foundation of London Pulse from the community up was exactly the right project for her.

From the very beginning to the day that she now steps away, nothing was done without Seaton’s involvement. Her attention to detail and passion drove their rapid achievements at NPL level and then as a developing Superleague team.

During their maiden season in Superleague, the positive results in terms of match wins were few and far between. However, what’s now clear is that they were again setting down their roots and creating a platform to work from.

The introduction of a wealth of young and talented players and a new head coach Bird, who has become interim CEO, during the off-season resulted in three wins from three prior to the 2020 season’s postponement.

“I remember getting the phone call to say that Pulse was in, during the summer before the 2019 season. I knew at that point that we were at a disadvantage because a lot of the teams had already signed players and all of their structures were pretty much set up,” Seaton said.

“Also, it came out of nowhere, so no one was really expecting a new club to be formed. It was all hands on deck and we worked really hard to start to create the beginnings of a brand. Whilst the results weren’t as good as we wanted them to be, there were so many things off the court that were brilliant.

“Now, we’re starting to see all of that hard work come to fruition and the work that was put in place from the beginning come to the fore. We started this journey about seven years ago, but in terms of Superleague and our most-recent history, this season seems like Pulse came of age.

“I’m not sure how many clubs can be in a league for just two years and in your second year really start to have been a talking point? We were playing exciting netball; I think we had a great set-up and we still will have a great set-up.”

Seaton is London Pulse, so the news that she is stepping aside from an active role as the franchise’s CEO will be as much of a shock to the netball world as that first announcement about Pulse joining the competition’s elite level.

My announcement to the @Pulse_Netball family & Netball Community

For someone who had an idea and then worked relentlessly to make it become a reality, the decision to move on, brings about mixed emotions.

“There’s always an element of sadness when you have worked really hard on something and your role within it changes, but that sadness is also teamed with a lot of pride about what has been achieved and the small amount of time it’s been achieved in.

“Also, knowing that it doesn’t end here. It’s very much a part of the journey and part of the story. It’s a fantastic place which will continue to flourish and grow. I think that I can take a lot of pride away from that.

“For me as an individual, I’m competitive and I thrust myself into any project that I get put into come up with and I’ve done this for such a long period of time,” she added.

“So, it won’t be like I’m closing the door and that’s it. It’s just that my role within the club is obviously going to now change – I’m not going to be part of the club, but it will still be in my heart.”

What comes next for the person who has spent every minute of every day thinking about London Pulse in recent times? First, a short break!

“I’m going to have a little bit of time out, that’s going to be immense for me. You don’t commit seven years of your life, every second of your life, and not feel like you might need a little bit of a break.

“It’s been intense and not just for me but for my family and everyone that’s close and dear around me. So, I want to give them some time and attention.

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