No praise too high for our netballers

Saturday, November 04, 2017

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Praise is due to Jamaica's national netballers for their silver medal placing at the recent International Netball Federation's Fast5 tournament in Australia.

For those who haven't been paying close attention, Fast5 netball is a relatively new innovation.

Much as is the case for the Twenty20 version of cricket, Fast5 netball is meant to make the court game more popular and commercially attractive.

In Fast5, each side has five players — compared to seven in the traditional format — and each quarter lasts six minutes, compared to 15 in traditional netball.

Last year the Jamaicans placed fifth in the global tournament.

All reports suggest that, in the most recent tournament, the Jamaicans were brilliant.

In the run-up to the final, they defeated South Africa 37-29, Malawi 31-24, hosts Australia 26-23, England 47-38, and defending champions New Zealand 30-23.

As it turned out, the Sunshine Girls fell short at the last hurdle, losing 29-34 to the English in the final — described as a thrilling contest.

Of course, Jamaicans would have been even more delighted had their national team won the gold medal. But in truth, after their problems of recent times, many had doubts about the prospects for the Sunshine Girls in Australia.

Readers will recall that Jamaica's netball appeared to be in trouble earlier this year with reports of poor relations between then coach Mrs Jermaine Allison-McCracken and senior members of the national squad.

Matters got worse in May when the Sunshine Girls — without several seniors — were beaten by lower-ranked, sister Caribbean nation Barbados in the traditional format of netball.

Three months later, Mrs Allison-McCracken resigned from her post after failing to agree on terms and conditions with administrators.

It's against that backdrop that Ms Sasher-Gaye Henry took over as coach ahead of the trip to Australia.

We note word from team captain Mrs Jhaniele Fowler-Reid that “hunger” to do well and burning ambition fuelled the team's performance in Australia.

“I feel it was the hunger that we had. We knew that we needed this, we knew that we had to come out with a medal; just that hunger and excitement that we went down with brought us over the line,” she explained.

And further: “We have been coming from far, we have been through a lot over the past couple of months, and this gives us upliftment and helps us to feel better about ourselves as a group.”

It just goes to show how much can be achieved when there is great determination and desire.




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