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Disappointment, yes, but the future remains bright for Jamaica's netball

Saturday, July 20, 2019

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So, Jamaica's Sunshine Girls play off against Malawi tomorrow for fifth place in the Netball World Cup in Liverpool, England.

It means they will come away from the tournament feeling they have let themselves down after entering ranked number two in the world and among the favourites for a place on the podium.

Yet, as we pointed out at the start, this was never going to be easy for Jamaica's national netballers.

As we pointed out then, the Jamaicans had to contend with the traditional power houses Australia, New Zealand and England — countries which not only command considerable resources for training and preparation, but which boast professional leagues.

That said, the biggest disappointment for the Sunshine Girls was, no doubt, the loss to South Africa — the latter having entered the tournament ranked fifth in the world.

Clearly, there were things which went wrong. Assistant Coach Winston Nevers has said as much in a frank interview with this newspaper after it became clear Jamaica would not have a podium finish.

“We have to fix a lot of things now because we are not supposed to be at this position at this time,” said Mr Nevers.

“If we see ourselves at this position it means there is something wrong, and we must fix it. We have to go back to Jamaica, give our report, look at areas we need to fix, and come again... We just want to fix some little areas — whether coach, whether player, whether management, whether Netball Jamaica overall. We just want to do a complete assessment right across the board and put it all together for the future,” he said.

Were all the players as fit as they needed to be? That's a question which will undoubtedly arise. This has been a physically taxing tournament.

At the end of tomorrow's fixture the Jamaicans will have played eight matches in 10 days, as yesterday's clash against Zimbabwe counted for the seventh game in eight days.

There will be questions about the high rate of turnovers for much of the tournament. What caused that? Was it just a case of individual players not doing well? Or could it have been affected by Jamaica's style of play?

In terms of style, was Jamaica too reliant on the long aerial ball or should there have been more use of short, snappy, bounced passes twinned to faster movement both on and off the ball?

We note that Mr Nevers seemed very pleased at the end of yesterday's 77-47 victory over Zimbabwe, which was described by our reporter as “eye-catching”.

Said Mr Nevers: “The score [was] a fair reflection of how we played, which was really good. They put the energy out, they did not put their heads down, [and] they continued to play as how we wanted them to play,” said Mr Nevers.

The key now is for Netball Jamaica to carefully examine the squad's performance at the World Cup to weigh what went wrong and what went right and move forward accordingly.

Once the cards are played correctly, the future will remain as bright as ever for Jamaica's netball.


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