The Sheffield Hatters Head Coach is ‘proud’ to be a part of the Great Britain Women’s Basketball coaching staff ahead of matches that could see them qualify for next year’s Olympics.

Vanessa Ellis, 55, has been involved with the team since 2009 and helped them become the first home nation to reach the semi-finals of the prestigious Eurobasket tournament in the summer before losing to France.

The team will play against Poland and Belarus in November in Eurobasket 2021 qualifying before a tournament in February to see who will head to Tokyo 2020.

Mrs Ellis, who is the assistant coach for GB Women, said: “It would be amazing, I don’t think people understand the difficulty in qualifying for these are in the first place.

“If anybody said beforehand what would have done nobody would’ve believed that, it’s been an unbelievable ride.

“We’ve got a shouting chance. Win one game and we are there.”

Despite the GB team’s current purple patch, Miss Ellis expressed her pride at being able to represent Sheffield and the Hatters internationally.

“I’ve always been proud to be a part of the GB team,” she added.

“I put in a lot of hard work – people are surprised when I say I coach the Hatters on a volunteer basis – so it’s a recognition for me and the work of the Hatters.

“The success of the club has helped me become a successful coach and got me the international opportunities, so I am aware of how they have helped me develop personally.”

After a trophy-laden spell in charge of the Hatters, including last season’s WBBL Cup, the Norfolk Park-based team has entered a period of transition.

However, they managed to get their first championship win of the season last Saturday when defeating Manchester Mystics 79-72.

“It’s been a difficult start, we only had two players return from last year’s team,” Mrs Ellis said.

“We are building a new team and I think on Saturday we were just starting to show the benefits of what we are doing.

“Hopefully from that we can get even better and better.”