AN EAST LANCASHIRE teenager whp has just won a scholarship for her sporting achievement has been chosen to play netball at a national level.

St Mary’s College student Francesca Barrientos, 17, was one of 18 people nationally chosen to play for the British Netball Team.

The move is possible thaks to the college’s flexible programme of study around sport.

Bosses said its Sports Academy, which is for students who are serious about sport and have a talent for football or netball, was proving highly successful.

Francesca, who also plays netball for the Yorkshire Jets and St Mary’s netball team, had to battle her way through three stages culminating in a final trial at Nottingham University before she was chosen.

She is to represent the college-age team for the 2012/2013 season and will be competing against top players from across Europe as well as further afield.

Kelly Reynolds, Francesca’s PE and netball coach at the college, said: "Francesca already plays at a high level outside college.

“It takes quite a lot of dedication and fitness. Francesca is a lovely girl, a dedicated student and netballer and an excellent role model to others in her sport. We are really pleased that she can showcase her netball talent at a national level."

The former St Augustine's student from Clayton-le-Moors, said she was extremely nervous when it came down to choosing the squad.

She said: “It was scary. We were training and they were writing things down on clip boards about us. Then they went out of the room for an hour. When they came back they gave each of us a letter and I couldn’t read mine there in front of everyone. I went outside and opened the letter and that’s when I knew I was in.”

Howard Best, head of sport at St Mary’s said: "We are delighted that Francesca chose to come to St Mary's College where she has been offered a flexible programme of study around her sport. At our annual prize evening at King Georges Hall, Francesca was awarded the Finley Scholarship, recognising her outstanding sporting achievement. This extra sport funding will help Francesca continue her netball success nationally."