LIKE her footballer brothers Gary and Phil, Tracey Neville has made sport her life.

And although the Bury-born athlete says that women are still not on a level playing field compared to her male counterparts, she refuses to focus on the negatives and revels on being able to follow her sporting dreams.

Netball has been Tracey's life since a young age and she began playing at county level when she was 14 years old, but despite her success — she was capped aged 19 just like her brothers — a knee injury forced her into retirement in 2008.

But not one to give up, she simply decided to focus on coaching instead, looking after Northumbria and Manchester Thunder, as well as raising the profile of her beloved sport.

But perhaps her biggest achievement came this year when she was made coach of the England netball team — who are currently poised to make their way to Australia for the world cup, which starts on August 7.

The former Elton High School pupil said: "It's quite a scary time, I was only appointed on March 19 this year so my time in the job has been very short. I've done as much preparation with the girls as I can, and as I always say to them, what will be will be. I can be a bit of a pessimist so I just take one day at a time."

Tracey, aged 38, believes that although things have changed slightly throughout her successful career, she believes that women are still way behind men.

She said: "I do think there are a lot of projects in respect of Sport England [a body which helps fund sport] and accolades for women's football and rugby, for example. But we still aren't where we want to be because of the amount of money that simply isn't in women's sport.

"I teach a group of athletes that are managing full time work or education and who are preparing to compete in a world cup.

"But that said, we can always look at the negatives and think, 'what could we have', but I always think about what we do have. If you look at women's sport now and how it's succeeding, although money helps, you're not in sport for that reason."

Tracey and her Manchester United footballer brothers were brought up to appreciate both sport and education — something that she thanks her parents Gill and Neville Neville for.

Tracey is no stranger to education herself — she earned a degree in nutrition and sport science at the University of Chester alongside her successful sporting career.

She said: "I think it was my mum and dad's will [to do both]. Being able to see both sides of the fence and focus on my education then going into work was important and it demonstrates how hard I've worked to get here.

"Although I've never had the monetary gains that my brothers have, I never thought at any point that I was hard done by or that couldn't achieve what I wanted to achieve. Something that is a real example of the way my parents have brought us up."

More recently Tracey was recognised for her outstanding contribution to sport and charity and received an honorary degree at the University of Bolton.

The university also honoured her elder brother Gary, aged 40, two years ago.

Tracey said: "For the University of Bolton to recognise us both is a credit to them. I have been here before as an England player and done work with the students so although I didn't study here it is somewhere I know quite well. I'm really pleased to have been recognised."